From 105 to 50 in a New York Minute — Part III. Syosset: Ends, Means, Wants and Necessities

Introduction: In the two previous postings, we looked at the mission of the Central Administration as it is presently constituted (Part I) and the most recent Treasurer’s Report (Part II). Part III was going to be dedicated to a possible future that the OCA could take if it seriously looked at a Diocesan Model that emphasizes Evangelism. This model is presently in use in the Diocese of Dallas and the South, where ever since its existence, it has strived to subsidize mission formation (to much apparent success.) However, the commentary provided by many has necessitated that we look more closely at the finances of Syosset. Specifically, we have received more information about actual finances that could flesh out the present picture more fully. As such, “Back to the Future” will now be posted later as “Part IV.” We apologize for the inconvenience.

Part III. Syosset: Ends, Means, Wants and Necessities

Reorganization or Preserving the Status Quo?

One of the benefits of the prepared Officers Reports for the 16th AAC is a glimpse into the thinking of the Central Administration concerning the Diocese of New York/New Jersey’s proposed resolution of decreasing the assessment to $50.00 per capita (down from $105.00). Many in the OCA ponder what decisions must be made to survive the current crisis, and continue to fulfill our mission. The Central Administration’s first reaction seems to be “how do we preserve the status quo?” These reactions are not surprising; in fact they are classic reactions exhibited in most organizations facing significant budget reductions.

When the reality of the situation is acknowledged, and the shock fades, the critical questions that must be answered are

1. At this funding level, how do we restructure the organization to provide critical services necessary to carry out our mission?

2. What are these critical functions? and

3. What is the best way to accomplish these functions?

The Treasurer’s prepared report, in the following paragraph, clearly outlines the typical approach to significant change:

The second budget being presented, Budget #2, at $50 per dues paying member, translates into $1.1 million annually based on our current census of 22,000 members. This represents a 53% reduction from our current operating level, and this decline cannot be achieved by simply reducing or eliminating frivolous expenses. This drastic a cut would necessarily result in not just a decrease in the functions performed by the central administration, but the elimination of personnel and ability to function and to fulfill our duties. Without a plan as to how these tasks will be accomplished, or by whom, what would the result be for the Church, the Dioceses, the parishes and the faithful? These are questions that need to be addressed PRIOR to determining the level of assessment required.

Ms Ringa is not a stranger to this concept. In her cover letter to the 2008 Treasurer’s report she indicated that if the OCA followed its current trends, it was in danger of no longer being a going concern in the next several years. (We would supply the link to this comment, but it seems to have “gone missing” on If anyone knows where the letter is located on the site, a link would be greatly appreciated.) At any rate, this dire assessment by Ringa was made before +Jonah was elected as Metropolitan and was indicative a pattern of ecclesial decline.

Generally speaking, a report from the treasurer warning of the possible demise of the organization is a clarion call to action for the management team of any private sector concern. Generally an intense effort ensues to determine either where cuts are to be made or where revenue increases can be found. In this scenario, a new leaner budget is created, and operational plans are drawn to accomplish the mission with the available resources.

The trends in the OCA have been clear for a number of years (as Ms Ringa herself pointed out in the proposed budget for the 16th AAC). Thanks to the introduction of The New York Plan, the impact of such significant budget cuts have created an aura of reality for the Central Administration, one that had heretofore been absent in the estimation of many.

Since the Treasurer of the OCA has now asked, let us explore several options for how the Central Administration can function under under a $50 assessment. It may very well be late in the day as this financial crisis has been of longer duration than most of us realize. Regardless, it is better to at least ask honest questions.

Syosset as Currently Funded

The current assessment provides annual revenue of approximately $2.5 million annually. This is based on 22,000 “dues-paying members” as noted in the Treasurer’s report. Let us examine the budget and discover where that annual sum is spent. This analysis may give us some clues as to where cuts might be made without sacrificing the mission of spreading the Orthodox faith and the Gospel of Christ across America.

1. Central Administration’s Facility Asset value
2. Cost & maintenance of the facility
3. Use of church assets

The current Central Administration office is located at 6850 N. Hempstead Turnpike, Syosset, NY 11791. In describing the facility in his prepared report for the AAC Fr Eric Tosi says:

The Chancery building sits on 14 acres with a large building that serves as the Chancery offices, Pension offices and a residence for the Metropolitan. The building was given to the OCA in 1950s for a total cost of $1. It represents the ONLY property owned by the OCA as an entity. There is no possible way that the OCA could ever acquire anything close to it on today’s market. While it does need some cosmetic repairs, the building itself is in structurally sound. Most work that does need to be done is repair and painting. The offices serve their purpose and there are a few rooms in the top floor available for people to stay.


The basement consists of storage rooms and the archives. It also houses one of the servers. The main floor has a wonderful chapel with the relics of many saints. This chapel is the heart of the work at the Chancery and it does have a small community who regularly worship there. There is also a sitting room, two meeting rooms, a solarium, a dining room, kitchen, file and copy rooms. The financial office is housed off the kitchen. The second floor has the Metropolitan’s apartment which has a kitchen, dining room, living room, bedroom and office. There are eight offices including a large office of personal files, and another formal sitting room. The top floor contains the offices for the Pension Board, three bedrooms and attic storage space. All together the space is well provided with the exception of a place for large meetings (we utilize a nearby hotel meeting room for free if needed). There are also gardens and pathways which have been restored over the past three years. It is a beautiful setting, under an hour from major airports and a fitting place to meet dignitaries and visitors.

The first question that needs to be asked is, “what is the purpose of the facility?”, not “what does it do today?” The second question is “What is necessary for the proper functioning of the OCA?” The purpose of a central church dministration for the OCA should be self-explanatory –it is the administration of the church. Common sense would dictate that any administrative staff needs adequate office, meeting and storage space. They probably don’t absolutely require sitting rooms, solarium, dining room, kitchen, Metropolitan’s apartment which (sic) has a kitchen, dining room, living room, bedroom and office, three bedrooms and gardens and pathways.

And if the facility were close to a parish or a cathedral would they need “a wonderful chapel with the relics of many saints?” Not necessarily. The Reliquary of the Church could be housed in a monastery. The chapel is certainly a nice touch but a central chancery in Washington located near the Cathedral would obviate the need for the one that exists presently in Syosset. That it is “…a beautiful setting, under an hour from major airports” is rather disingenuous as Syosset is quite remote from several airports. This really doesn’t tell us much. Does Syosset provide a shuttle service from the airports? If not, then this one hour ride necessitates a very expensive cab-ride (at a cost of $80.00 each way) to travel the distance from the local airports.

Earlier in Tosi’s article he opines that the Syosset facility “…represents the ONLY property owned by the OCA as an entity. There is no possible way that the OCA could ever acquire anything close to it on today’s market.” Left unsaid is whether the national Church should be buying property in the first place, especially in this economy. Are there plans for the Church as a whole to buy more property? If not, why not?

Is Maintaining Syosset a Wise Use of Resources?

Given our current situation in the OCA, how does owning this property assist in spreading the Gospel? The OCA has limited funds – somewhere between $1.1M and $2.5M annually. The first question about any asset in these times should be “is this the best use of church funds to achieve our goals, or should we dispose of the centrally-held assets and redeploy the funds for other church uses?”

Let us ask, what is the value of the Syosset property? In the current real estate market the property would be valued conservatively in the five-to-10 million dollar range. MLS Listings for houses which are situated on one acre lots in the Chancery area average over $1.0 million. The Syosset property is 14 acres. Therefore, based on these numbers the chancery building on two acres would be worth a minimum of $2.0 million. Undeveloped land in the Syosset area is valued in range of $650k to $1.0 million per acre based on location and the state of development. Using the current pricing for raw land, the 14 acres would be worth $9 million dollars on the low end (building included). Working with a developer, if the OCA were to split the property and sell the house and the remaining land, the property might be worth even more. Using a very conservative estimate of $4.5 million, we are back to the question of: is this the best use of valuable church assets, that is to say, to employ the present staff? And, could the same functions be carried out in a less expensive venue without doing violence to the mission of the Church?

The next way to look at the Syosset property would be to examine the current costs for upkeep and maintenance versus the cost of lease space in another location. The 2011 estimated budget for maintaining the Syosset property is $277,450, or roughly 12% of the budget. (Keep in mind, this is for property that is already owned by the Church.)

The OCA Secretary’s report tells us that the staff was lowered from 30 people to around nine on-site employees with an additional three part-time contracted employees. Of the nine on-site employees, 5 are full-time and four are part- time. Basesd on these numbers (and accounting for the addition of infrequent visitors), an interview with a professional office planner revealed that a comparable commercial office of about 5000 square feet could easily accommodate the present needs of the Central Administration. Therefore, in exploring alternative commercial office space, the current budget could support up to $55.50 per square foot for commercial office space with all the amenities. In most major cities including Washington D.C. (other than K Street), first class office space with all services including utilities, common area maintenance, and cleaning services can be leased for $20-$30 per square foot per year. Long term leases in good facilities can be even less expensive.

Let us expand on this. In Washington, premier office space could be gotten for $30.00 per square foot per year. This means that 5,000 sq ft would cost $150,000 per year, a seemingly exhorbitant sum until one looks at what we are paying now, for land we already own (which, as was noted above is a little over $270,000).

Should Syosset be Maintained?

The Chancery office in Syosset is a church asset worth (at least) $4.5 million dollars, employing nine administrators, and costing $277,450 per year to maintain, according to Fr Tosi. Not only is this an extravagant cost, it is located on some of the most expensive commercial real estate in America. The cost of residential real estate alone drives up salaries, otherwise few could afford to work there. There is simply no other way to put this.

As we reflect on our options and make our plans and consider the resolutions to be set before the All-American Council, we must remember that the Central Administration does indeed provide some important services to the Church. But the CA does not constitute the entire church. Many of the Dioceses have minimal staff and little activity because the lion’s share of the available funds go to support a very expensive central administration. As noted in Part II, the Bishop of New York receives a compensation that is paltry –about 35 percent–compared to the average employee in Syosset. In addition, parish priests often hold other jobs in order to supplement their income; alarmingly, some priests have to subsist on food stamps in order to keep their families fed. In any event, such outrageous conditions inhibit growth and outreach.

The problems faced by the OCA did not begin this year with the discussion of The New York Plan (or in 2008 for that matter). They have been of long duration and if anything, this new proposal simply brought the problem into sharp relief. To be viable as an entire church, the OCA must grow. The source of that growth is an increase in members. Both non-Orthodox and already-Orthodox have to be evangelized. The work to make that happen takes place in the parishes. These parishes must have direction provided to them by the Dioceses to which they belong. Simply put, a remote central chancery in a continent-wide Republic is not a viable model, especially when there are viable Dioceses located throughout 48 the contiguous states and Alaska. Starving the parishes and the Dioceses to support a bloated, out-of-touch central administration that has little to show for its efforts is a plan that has been tried and found wanting. A continuation of the present financing scheme is at this point, nothing but throwing good money after bad.

It is time to revisit our priorities, our budget, and our planning. The New York Plan is a good beginning.

+ + + + + + + + + +

Part I. How We Got Here

Part II. Syosset: A Trajectory of Failure

Part III. Syosset: Ends, Means, Wants and Necessities (coming soon)

Part IV. Back to the Future? A History of the Diocese of the South (coming soon)

View entire essay (coming soon)


  1. I think you are looking for this. This is from Spring 2010, shortly after Ms. Ringa became treasurer. (She was not treasurer before Metropolitan Jonah came along.) She says there was a 25% decline in assessment-paying members from 1990 to 2009, and said that if the trends were not reversed, the viability of the national church would be in question by 2015.

  2. I think 2015 has been moved up to 2012. These OCA officials are not likeable folks. Tosi is a pompous arse. Garklavs was fired, but he knows better so he will continue to eat at the assessment trough. Melchizedek is openly contemptuous of the Metropolitan, which puts him on the same team as Garklavs and Tosi. Ringa has thrown in her lot with anti-Jonah Syosset staff and what does that tell you? The OCA is a hierarchical church in name only. These folks, along with the crack MC are telling all of us that they know best.

    Well, guess what, the NY/NJ proposal is saying, “No you don’t know best. We have something to say about this.”

    Syosset is in a lose-lose situation now. If the $50 assessment passes, the OCA is forced to adjust. If it doesn’t pass, or worse, the Synod overrules the conciliar action of the Church in Seattle, we will be told that our voice does not matter. Well, we will accept that, but don’t expect us to pay for your decision to overrule us.

    Ms. Ringa would like us to re-imagine the OCA prior to cutting the Assessment so that a plan can take place. Well, that is a nice idea but we already know that the Syosset Preconciliar Commission axed the NY/NJ resolution proposal months ago, time that could have been used to re-imagine the OCA, so we already know that her words are simply wallpaper and reveal the open contempt for the serious faithful in the NY/NJ diocese. Sorry Melanie, you had your chance.

    Now it is our turn to let you all know that we are not happy with your job performance and we are going to change the ground rules. We don’t need a Stokoe-styled bloated salary central church. Start making your contingency plans now. January 1, 2012 is coming and you won’t get paid what you have been getting paid.

    We want a smaller central church focused on those things that are unique to the Office of the Metropolitan and the Holy Synod. We will take care of growing the church in our parishes and dioceses. If you in Syosset want more money, then start raising it but not from the sure-bet of assessments.

    You all in Syosset make the case to all of us why you are so important and we can’t live without you. Answer to us how we should trust you with another $8.1 million dollars for the next three years. Defend your record, if you can, and tell us how you wasted our money by spending too much of your time trying to get rid of Metropolitan Jonah and not enough time doing whatever you do there.

    How about a vote of confidence by the Syosset staff for Metropolitan Jonah. That would be a first step. If you can’t do that, then why should we continue to pay you?

    • You mean having the Syosset staff give a vote of confidence in Metropolitan Jonah? I agree. If they can’t work with Metropolitan Jonah, the honorable thing to do is resign… not undermine his leadership by stabbing him in the back at every turn, and try to force him to resign. A vote of confidence saying that they are willing to work out their issues would be a very beneficial thing.

      BTW, what kinds of things has Bishop Melchisedek been saying about the Metropolitan? I’ve heard rumors, but nobody seems to want to go into detail.

      • Sorry to bring this up, but it goes back to the DC Nuns and Mel’s status here in the USA. Jonah knows and Mel knows what Jonah knows and the DC Nuns know what Jonah knows and Fester knew what Jonah and the DC Nuns knew. And from that it continues to be Darwin’s Law running the OCA, “survival of the fittest” or at least the mean and nasty. And, do you think that Mel and Garklavs went to the GOA to tell them how much they love Jonah? Or Kishkovsky telling everyone how great Mel and Garklavs are and now bad Jonah is, all of them taking their cue of Hopko’s “gravely troubled” insult. Really, is this what we are paying these guys to do?

        But, let’s just focus on the battle at hand. Taking responsibility for the OCA, changing her course in a new direction, and letting the parishes and dioceses of the Church be free of a Syosset assessment that gets us nothing, to grow this Church into the future from the bottom up and not the failed OCA history of the top down.

        • What I meant was, what has Bishop Melchisedek been doing to be described as “openly contemptuous” towards Metropolitan Jonah?

  3. Besides the hiring of Garklavs after he was fired or his less than obvious remarks in his Interim Chancellor’s report, the public version, that the Metropolitan hardly comes to Syosset, which is a direct rebuke and untrue because the Metropolitan goes to Syosset every week except when his schedule, like when he spent time in Dallas for the dying days of Dmitri and then his funeral, made it impossible for him to be in Dallas, although he was castigated for that behind the scenes.

    Besides directing Mel to get his Greek paperwork in order, once and for all, but Mel ignored that directive, putting the OCA in a precarious position and further diluting our credibility with the Greeks.

    I guess not much, beside the above mentioned.

    • Thanks, Jacob. What I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of is a rumor I’d heard about Metropolitan Jonah being said to have some kind of less-than-supportive attitude towards Carpatho-Rusyns. Obviously, there are a lot of those in Pennsylvania.

      • What “less than supportive attitude” toward Carpatho Russians? Please explain further. thanks

        • No idea. That was how it was phrased to me. I venture to guess that it may have been an assumption someone made based on His Beatitude’s close ties to Moscow. You know the children’s game, Telephone, where one person whispers something, and each child whispers what he or she hears to the next, and the last child says what he or she heard aloud, and it’s a bizarre permutation of whatever was originally said?

          The only reason I brought it up is to see if anyone else had heard the same. I cannot imagine that Metropolitan Jonah was ever actually derogatory towards Carpatho-Rusyns. Hypothetically, though, spreading a false rumor like that would devastate a person’s reputation easily.

        • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

          No idea either. What is it that “Carpatho-Rusyns” are DOING as such that needs supportiveness? And I never know what to do with these various ethnic tags upon which so many seem to pride themselves. “Rusyn” must be a linguistic variation on “Russki”, a denizen of “Rus”, no? And when Carpathian comes into the picture, this must pertain to the mountain range of that name, but there are subdivisions there, too: “Sub-Carpathian”, “Beyond Carpathian”, and “Just Carpathian” “Ruthenian” is a favorite of the Unionists and it is an Englishing of the Latin word for Russia: Rutheniensis. Now another proud group denies that any of the above listed ethnic labels are anything but deliberate attempts to avoid confession of their REAL identity: Ukrainian. I’m sorry I couldn’t go into Halychsky and Hutzul and Lemkovshina and so on, but these are obviously to be considered nothing less than nationalities, like Russian, Chinese, Persian, etc., and must not be confused with Russian or Ukrainian, which would be belittling. They were once known, in the darkest of dark ages, all of them, as Little Russians. “Great Russians” were like the Greeks of Sicily and South Italy who lived in Great Greece “Magna Graecia” compared to the Hellenes in (Little) Greece, or Hellas. I forgot to mention “Ugro-Carpatho-Rusyn!” Those would be, for example, those named Geeza or Gyza, etc. after the great figure of Hungarian history and myth “Giza.”) And I forgot another Nation: the Bukovinian Nation. There’s also a Moldavian one. One needs to know if one was born in Lemberg or L’wiw or L’vov: in Chishinau or Kishinev, in Sibiu or Hermanstadt and so on. I note that Father John Jillions is associated with the “Sheptitsky Institute in Canada.” That too commemorates the greatest Ukrainian Roman Catholic (Uniate) prelate of all time, Andrew Sheptitsky, Archbishop of L’wiw, an indication that the formidable “Ecumenical” Outreach of the OCA just goes from mountain top to mountain top. There was a time when all the OCA Departments either had an “Episcopal Moderator’ or were headed by a bishop. External and Ecumenical Affairs was always headed by Archbishop Peter. Father Leonid never reported anything that was not approved by His Eminence, although His Eminence allowed Father Leonid to attend Holy Synod meetings to read the official department report. Now, there is no such “overseer”, or even “middleman.”
          I always thought it a calumny when people accused SVS of being snobby Great Russians who resented the “upstart” and (yes, believe it or not!) “fraudulent” STS, which was “all Carps and Galicians who hate real Russians.” It’s as bad as what Greeks say when someone says they are not Greek, but Macedonian.
          Fightin’ Words, as we ethnic Americans might say. (I’m ducking.)

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            I’m getting a kick out of this one. It’s hitting a little too close to home. My mother’s people are from Imbros, my dad’s Morea as far as the eyes can see. I often got the feeling that my Anatolian cousins considered me a half-breed. 🙂

          • Monk James says

            Back atcha, BT!

            Not Giza where stand the pyramids?

            Oh, the confusion is great.

            Galich, Halych, Galicia, Galatia, Gaul, Gaelic, the Gaeltacht.

            Galling! [[(;-D3

            Ethnic counts for nothing in our life as Christians. Nothing!

          • See, Your Grace, none of that made a bit of sense to me. When people get into these ethnic battles, all I can do is pretend to listen, and secretly paraphrase Groundskeeper Willie from Simpsons episode 4F09: “Helga hears ya. Helga don’t care.”

      • Haven’t heard that one. What did the Rusyns ever do to the OCA except found and populate most of our parishes?

    • George Michalopulos says

      You know, Jacob, it just occurred to me. The Phanar/GOA axis is going to use the irregularity of the +Mel situation as a cudgel against us. It’s unbelievable how we’ve foolishly thrown away another trump card to the Phanar.

  4. Speaking of Metropolitan Jonah, Rod Dreher has an interesting new piece about his wife telling off Metropolitan Jonah back in April.

    All I can say is, man, don’t mess with Julie Dreher! Well, it should also say a lot that Metropolitan Jonah was there to be criticised, and that he received an unexpected guest with hospitality.

  5. Excellent analysis. It’s called “zero-based budgeting.” You don’t use the current level of operations and expenditures as the base, but rather start with a blank sheet of paper, enumerate the objectives, and calculate the resources needed to accomplish the objectives. I think that 5,000 square feet of leased commercial office space is far more than needed for five full-time and four part-time employees. You can use nearby hotels for housing guests and hosting large meetings as necessary. If you look within a 30-minute subway ride from St. Nicholas Cathedral on Massachusetts Ave., you could find dozens of commercial office buildings that would be more than adequate, and all would be suitable for welcoming guests, dignitaries, etc. Obviously given that the current space formerly housed a staff of 30 tells you immediately that it is oversized. Continuing to own and maintain such an expensive white elephant is scandalous.

    • Is anyone besides George going to Seattle for the AAC? I would think he could use any help we can give him so that we are not slaves to the OCA or OCAN spin on events in Seattle.

      • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

        I’m heading to Seattle, God-willing, as the priest-delegate to the AAC from my small but harmonious Orthodox mission church, Christ the Savior Orthodox Mission, in Stafford, VA. To invoke a muscular metaphor in my best lilting Irish accent, I ask you, Nikos, and the other OCA folk who cannot attend, “Please hold my coat.”

        • Father Bless!

          We would be glad to hold your coat as long as, in the words of Mr. Michaleen in the movie The Quiet Man stated, before the famous fight scene between Mr Danaher and Mr. Thornton,

          “Gentlemen, if you please. This is a private fight. The Marquis of Queensbury rules will be observed on all occasions.

          As long as the Marquis rules will be observed, we shall be pleased to hold you coat!

          • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

            Unfortunately, Nikos, the “fight” is hardly, for the most part, private, the various and sundry detractors of His Beatitude having gone public on various websites and in several OCA venues since February. But I assure you that I, for one, shall honor Mr. Michaleen’s conditions “on all occasions.” Who needs to resort to cheap shots anyway when a bold, informed, resolute prophetic voice will suffice?

            • Jane Rachel says

              “…a bold, informed, resolute prophetic voice”

              Really? Father, can we actually have hope things will change?

              • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

                LTG Russell Honore, the “Ragin Cajun” who famously chided a reporter during Hurricane Rita, “Don’t get stuck on stupid,” said to me during a military exercise that “hope is not a plan.” He was right about that–for military operations. But for religious and spiritual ops hope is always a principal virtue to cultivate as long as we are breathing. So, yes, I have hope that the OCA is neither moribund nor incapable of dramatic change for the better. And by that I do not mean in the directions that the chancery, Metropolitan Council, or rogue, avant garde clergy seem to have in mind.

                • Jane Rachel says

                  Thank you for that encouragement, Father Alexander. I live by this one: “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.” Prov. 13:12

                  It will take many strong, resolute voices of leadership to effect that “dramatic change for the better.” I am gradually growing in confidence that the tide is turning and change is on the way.

        • You go, Father! And if you happen to see a certain Editor tastefully dressed in lavender…

          “Here’s a stick to beat the lovely lady.”

      • I wish I could go, but I just can’t afford it. I will be listening to the AFR podcasts and praying for everyone, though.

        • Well , I remember some years ago… maybe 7, when at Pt. Reyes,”at table the discussion was the location of the Central office of the OCA. We picked the epicenter. I can’t actually remember where it was. Did it include distance from Alaska or the Hawaiian Islands?. Anyway, one thing I do remember as this was MANY years before Fr. Jonah became a Bishop and/or Met. He said it had to be in a city that was 20 minutes from an international airport. He was RIGHT even back then.
          It is a sweet thing that it might occur in our nations capital and would be available to all kinds of travelers and visitors. I suggest we move on this whether they have managed to force him out or not.
          Helga, I wish I could pay for a trip for you to Seattle. I live near there myself. If I had the resources I would surely love to treat you to a trip. However, the observers fee is like ..$60.00 a day. I feel this was an effort on the part of +BB to handicap the laity from actually arriving to see the travesty of manipulation.
          The banquet another $100.00 to keep friends away.
          If you were there I know I would hear the bottom line. Instead I will meet friends after sessions as I cannot afford to attend this assault on the +Met either.
          No one would want his job. God Bless.

          • Thank you, faceit. I would love to see the OCA have a chancery that was open to the public. NYC is just too expensive for being within 20 minutes of an international airport. It’s expensive to be within even an hour of an international airport up there. They could do so much better in Washington, and might even be able to facilitate charitable ministries.

            It breaks my heart to know that this will probably be a bloodbath for Metropolitan Jonah. My heart aches with the knowledge that I could have done more and could be doing more to help him. I would give anything to be able to be there in Seattle, and to be able to protect Metropolitan Jonah from every evil plan and intention being brought to the council. I have been praying for months, because that is all I can offer for his sake.

            But I know deep down, in my heart, that with God on Metropolitan Jonah’s side, no council or synod will be able to harm him. They may be able to bump the white hat off of Metropolitan Jonah, or even kill him, but they cannot force God to approve of what they do. The enemies cannot touch his real life unless he allows them to. And an OCA with a robber synod will either repent quickly or decay into nothingness.

            • George Michalopulos says

              VERY well put Helga. I think Seattle will be a turning point. Either the robbers in the leadership will repent and a new day will dawn for the OCA or they will succeed in staying in power and continuing along the same path of idiocy. If the latter, then the days of the OCA will be numbered, and rightfully so. (And rather quickly I might add.)

              We ordinary people (priests and bishops included) need to know which way it is going to be so we can start making our plans elsewhere. Then that appalling figure of 22,000 “dues paying members” will quickly shrivel so that Syosset will have to be sold nonetheless and those wonderful meetings that the Metropolitan Soviet Council holds several times a year on our dime will mercifully come to an end as well.

              But don’t worry about the Stokovites, they can make some arrangement with ECUSA to take the remaining real estate and form an Eastern Rite Vicariate in which “tolerance” will be preached and Inga’s Covens will be able to meet at all subsequent Councils.

    • Not to mention, they don’t really need to have a Metropolitan’s apartment in the chancery. It might be convenient to have a place to crash, but most people I know don’t like to actually live where they work. They need some kind of psychological distance. Not to mention, a serious monastic Metropolitan, like the current one, might prefer a living space more conducive to that kind of a life.

      Who was the last Metropolitan to actually live there, anyway? I know Metropolitan Herman still lived in South Canaan as Metropolitan, and continues to live there to this day.

      • I could be wrong, but I believe it was Theodosius, but he moved out and lived somewhere else in the neighborhood before he retired.

      • Yes, because real monks need more than simple accommodations. It takes room to store really long prayer ropes, big candles, and piles of icons. Serious monastics are also not used to living adjacent to a chapel, reception area, refectory, and primary work area.

        • I meant a living space conducive to a communal monastic life. The thing with monks is that they tend to like living with other monks, in these things called “monasteries”. Metropolitan Jonah also has a cell attendant, which means a one-bedroom apartment is neither sufficient nor appropriate, for reasons that should be obvious.

          Metropolitan Jonah suggested establishing a monastery at the chancery, which was shot down. He suggested having monastics as chancery employees, which was also shot down. Gee, I can’t imagine why the current staff didn’t jump all over that – maybe because the proposal would serve the greater good rather than their personal interests.

          • Monk James says

            In Russia, prior to the bolshevik revolution, episcopal households were counted as monasteries.

            It helps to remember that there was no such thing then and there as an ‘eparchial council’ or (God bless them!) a ‘metropolitan council’ (mitropolichiy sovyet).

            These small communities not only provided manpower for the many tasks attendant to the efficient management of each eparchy, but also conducted daily services and were always at the ready to accompany the bishops on pastoral visits, keeping liturgical chaos to a minimum. And monks (while we’re not to be regarded as slave labor) are generally cheaper to employ than people with families.

            But the best thing about this arrangement was that the bishops were not living alone. Not only is this psychologically better for most people, but it’s especially valuable on a moral and spiritual level: people living in a community are accountable to each other in ways simply not available to solitaries.

            This is not to undermine the merits of the solitary life for those who are truly called to it, but merely to point out that people often fall into sin when they delude themselves into thinking that no one is watching them — bishops included.

            As long as we’re going to insist that our bishops be monks, it seems to me right and good that the russian arrangement be encouraged in the OCA. All we need is half a dozen monks for each bishop. Any volunteers?

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Cal, one thing I left out is that for all the bells and whistles that constitute Syosset, whenever the HS comes in town for a confab, they all have to go to a neaerby hotel anyway. So, the more we find out, the less and less it looks like a good deal.

  6. George,

    Thank you for your series. So far it has been quite interesting. I am not sure that I buy your argument regarding the remoteness of the Chancery. Having been to the chancery on a number of occasions, I did not find it to be terribly remote. It is about 45 minutes from JFK airport, fairly close to the same time it takes to get to SVS– or Central Park depending how you go and the traffic. I wouldn’t describe those places as being particularly remote.

    I am also a little skeptical of the so-called New York Plan. While it is true that OCA Central has been malfunctioning for the past number of years, I am not sure that “starving the beast” is the appropriate remedy for the problems we face. We are not in trouble solely because we are not receiving good value for our money. We are in trouble because the leadership in the OCA as a whole has squandered the trust of its members. Will the New York Plan restore parishioners’ trust in the OCA? Color me unconvinced.

    I am also skeptical because I don’t know how reducing national church assessments will affect giving practices. Just as an example, if a parishioner knows that his parish sends off about $110 for national church assessments (either directly or through the diocese) and he factors that into his annual giving, will he continue to give the same amount as before when the national assessment is reduced to $50? I don’t know. Conceivably not.

    Perhaps the New York Plan might work as part of, or in aid of, a more comprehensive overhaul of the OCA structure the core of which is aimed at restoring trust by taking trust-building measures. One might almost call this a strategic plan. But no such plan exists–pace strategic planning committee. Even in what you term the Diocesan Model, George, the issue of trust is not addressed. A quick glance over the posts on your blog suggests that people do not trust their bishops.

    With regard to the chancery property, George, you portray it as the manifestation of a bloated Central Church administration. Perhaps it is. And perhaps the central administration is bloated. On both counts, good-willed people can disagree. I rather like the chancery and have good will toward you.

    Thanks again!


    • Sam, the thing you have to remember is that JFK is on the same side of New York City as Syosset. Syosset is in the middle of Nassau County. JFK is on the lower, furthest east edge of Queens. SVS is a few counties away – all the way across Queens, the Bronx, and several miles into Westchester if I remember correctly. If it takes the same amount of time to get to each place, that means Syosset is further away from NYC than SVS.

      SVS is absurdly easy to get to – from midtown Manhattan, it’s about 20 minutes by car, and an hour or less by commuter train (including the walk from the train station). I wouldn’t drive myself the first time, but it’s really not that difficult.

      The Syosset chancery is further away from NYC. The traffic on the LIE is a legendary nightmare. To get to the Syosset chancery from the LIRR stations, it’s a three mile journey on rural highways, so you’d still have to take a taxi or hire a car service. So I’m sorry, but I don’t think the two locations are anywhere near equivalent.

      • Helga:

        Thanks for the information. I don’t think what you wrote changes my point.

        Best regards,


        • I think it does, Sam. The chancery is rather more isolated than you seem to think. You compared it to SVS, which is quiet but actually is close to civilization. Syosset, on the other hand, is firmly in the sticks. But maybe you’re from a part of the country where people are more automobile-oriented.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Sam, you raise several good points. The DM is not necessarily going to instill more trust if we get rid of the CA and convert it to the Washington DC, chancery. But it is far easier to instill trust between parishioner and a bishop who is located within an hour’s drive than what we have now. And also, the bishop is where the buck stops. That’s a recipe for a lot of action. Whether the diocese takes advantage of it or not is soley up to them.

      All I’m saying is that the present (eparchial) model hasn’t worked in this jurisdictions or the others.

  7. Jane Rachel says

    “A quick glance over the posts on your blog suggests that people do not trust their bishops.”

    Sam, how can trust be restored?

  8. Sam,

    You state

    I am also skeptical because I don’t know how reducing national church assessments will affect giving practices. Just as an example, if a parishioner knows that his parish sends off about $110 for national church assessments (either directly or through the diocese) and he factors that into his annual giving, will he continue to give the same amount as before when the national assessment is reduced to $50? I don’t know. Conceivably not.

    But isn’t that the whole point. We have had a central church in the OCA that has covered the weakness, or even enabled the weakness of dioceses for years. Now, we will put it all out into the transparent light of accountability and say, more funds are staying close to home. Gather, each deanery, each diocese and make the most of it.

    The Top Down approach in the OCA has failed. It has arguably enabled an underclass of diocesan strength because too much money goes to Syosset leaving not enough locally. Now the light will shine faithfully on each diocesan bishop, his council, his diocesan departments and say to them, be creative within the unique realities of your situation. Be bold. You can make mistakes, it is ok. God blesses the good intentions of your efforts. Like a child learning to walk, you will stumble and fall, but we will all learn to walk together.

    The DOS has proved that this works. They started with 6 parishes and now they have, 85? No, not setting the world on fire, but at least being faithful to what we have been called to do. And the DOS will benefit the most from a reduction in the OCA assessment. Why? Because they no long collect it from their parishes so another $150K will be reinvested into the DOS because that amount won’t go to Syosset.

    Sure, I can accept that you are skeptical, heck, you have every right to be, but think on this, if the OCA can make this move, it does not say anything except, we can change, we can adapt, we are nimble because we are local.

    Sam, the world has been watching our mistakes, how about giving them an opportunity to see us succeed?

    • Jacob:

      Thanks for your reply.

      I am not sure I understand the point you make in your first paragraph. Perhaps I am missing something in your post. If so, I apologize. My point on giving practices is that a reduction in national assessment does not necessarily mean more money at the diocesan level, unless diocesan assessments increase.

      Also, if the DOS is the example to emulate, shouldn’t the other dioceses be able to replicate it’s succes in the current administrative framework? I think there is a deeper problem here; finance issues are mere symptoms.

      Wishing you a pleasant day,

      • Sorry if I was not clear. My point was that the OCA system is broken so redirecting more funds locally will empower the diocese to potentially do more.

        Yes, the DOS model can be followed, but it would mean a change in a minimal giving assessment model to an open-ended no limit percentage model. As the diocese grows, the OCA benefits. It should be noted that the DOW also has a percentage method, but I believe that they still collect the OCA assessment in some fashion from their parishes, whereas the DOS collects no OCA assessment from her parishes. Someone can correct me if I speak incorrectly.

        You are right. The deeper issue is do constituent dioceses and by extension parishes have confidence in Syosset. I believe they do not and have not for many years. The current dysfunction in the OCA is just another manifestation of how broken the situation has become.

        Bottom-line, sending more money to Syosset will not help the OCA fulfill her mission. The mission of growing the Church is done locally. So let’s give the locals a chance to do it.

        I hope that is a better explanation.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Sam, excellent point. The DOS system will only work in (say) Pittsburgh or Boston, or wherever if the people are ready to go to some type of proportional giving (ideally, the tithe). I’m sorry, but I just can’t get the travesty of what’s going on in NY/NJ out of my head –85+% going to Syosset, the Bishop getting close to $100K less than the Chancellor, etc. Nobody could put enough lipstick on that pig and make it look good.

      • Sam,

        One of the reasons that this looks to untenable is that you are viewing it through the lens of the assessment. It is not the only way to support one’s church. Shifting to an ideal of a 10% tithe, and having each level send 10% along to the level above it, is not only possible but has been very workable in the DOS.

        A structure where the money seems to be well utilized under careful stewardship will encourage giving, especially if people can see that their giving has a positive local impact. (An organization which seems bent on backbiting and slurring their ruling hierarch just doesn’t seem to create that structure for me. You? )

        Yes, in some areas of the OCA this will be a cultural shift. But, if the alternative is either endless fundraisers or a shrinking, dying church, it is something to consider. And if church communities saw tithing of even 4-5%, among most all the members, you might be shocked at just how much revenue that might be.

        “Where your treasure is, there your heart is also…” can’t remember where I read that, 😉 but it is true. Those who tithe, or even work toward that, are invested in their church. That investment is the foundation of the church as a community. A vibrant community is attractive to cradle Orthodox and converts (and inquirers, too!) Drawing others to a joyful body of Christ is how the OCA can grow.

        So, Sam, I agree with you that “there is a deeper problem here; finance issues are mere symptoms.” For good or ill, the DOS model was developed and practiced more or less outside of the “current administrative framework.” Archbishop Dmitri, of blessed memory, shepherded the DOS as a sovereign diocese, and preached the tithe from the get-go. While no funds were withheld from the Central Administration, during the Time of Troubles or any other time, he told his flock that the work was to be done locally, and “we should stick to our knitting.”

        Oh, and he was blessed with a talented and dedicated chancery staff, in the person of Milos Konjevich as well as resourceful deans and others. So part of the model is a robust diocese structure that focuses on planting missions and supporting the parishes.

        Sam, the finances really are the easy part. The change in attitude, in hearts and minds is the challenge.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Sam, it’s not just money we’re talking about here. It’s the unleashing of raw, enthusiastic creativity. By removing the central chancery from the equation, things just tend to happen. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

  9. Am I correct in that this assessment is an annual head tax, so to speak? I just ran some numbers for my little Assembly of God church. We have an annual budget for all operating expenses (including Pastor’s salary) of about $57,000. We also commit an additional $7800 annually to missions work (both home and abroad). 10% gets “tithed” to the Minnesota District, which in turn sends 10% to Springfield to AG central. The central office produces all the Sunday school materials and published a weekly “magazine” and a ton of other stuff I probably don’t know (or care) about.

    So, our annual budget is $64,800. Typically, revenue is much higher than that. Size of our congregation? Last week we had 44 adults and children, and that was a pretty big crowd.

    Maybe there needs to be some time spent in II Corinthian 8 and some preaching on joyful giving among the Orthodox. The “tax and spend” church is not going to be successful in the long run, IMHO.

    • Alec, you understand the situation with crystal clarity. The AG gets things done and folks believe in its work and are happy to support it. Not so with Syosset and all this Jonah stuff is just a big fat diversion from those who want to continue to the status quo.

  10. Like Alec posted here that the AG headquarters in Springfield, MO, not exactly the inter-galactic center of the universe, but they manage to get things done and sense their responsibility to their people and offer back to those who pay their salaries a worthy work product.

    It is not the location but the content of the work being offered at that location that is the final measure of the validity of an organization.

    Look at the lastest piece of spin by Syosset to “promote” the stature of Fr Kishkovsky at the expense of Jonah….

    The active Fr Leonid, tracking down Bp. Serapion as he is in his car on the way to the airport to convey the concern of Jonah. Do these jokers think we are that stupid.

    Serapion talks to Jonah directly. He does not need Kishkovsky to be his intermediary and we don’t need a Tosi story to fool us.

    Talk about trying to justify their jobs. If it were not so sad it would be comical. But it is not funny at all.

    And most depressingly, what the OCA has to say about the oppressed Coptic Church is nothing compared to the EP and Moscow speaking out in their defense.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Jacob, I think you are wrong. The location plays a big part in the attitude and the cost. The East coast arrogance, entitlement and cost of living is enough to choke anything. The East coast is far more parochial than the middle of the country; much more ghettoized, etc. And did I mention the cost?

      • Patrick Henry Reardon says

        About ten years ago, I was asked to suggest what changes might be needed for the health of the Orthodox Church in the new century.

        I suggested that we have no institutions—including no seminaries—east of the Hudson River.

        They did not publish the suggestion.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Fr. Pat, I’d move the boundary a good deal further west. At the very least nothing east of the Appalachians.

      • Posted immediately below.

        • Michael,

          I certainly see your point and agree that the Northeastern arrogance displayed by the OCA leadership, especially since the overthrow of Herman and the replacement with a Zarras-styled business model, paying top dollar for positions that before did a better job at less pay might be enough to make your point. Sorry for the run on sentence.

          Much of what the OCA suffers from is an overreaction to the bad old days of Kondratick and the obession of people like Stokoe, Wheeler, Benjamin and Nathaniel to throw as much dirt on his grave to make sure that anything done back then is interpreted as bad, corrupt and evil. However, “me thinks the lady protests too much.”

          The current abomonation of an OCA chancery hierarchy comes from, I believe, that Northeastern arrogance and a blindly implemented organizational model that places the chancellor, secretary and treasurer on equal footing, and with the Metropolitan only on the top of the chart in name only. See here and scroll to Tosi’s report for the organizational chart

          This attempt to de-Kondratick the OCA has a total failure, even to the point the Garklavs objected to it and wanted changes so that the Chancellor was more of a point of contact and able to have more authority in the day-to-day operations of the Chancery. What the brillant new OCA minds failed to grasp was that when they killed Kondratick, ran Herman out of town got rid of anyone with an institutional history of the OCA and replaced them with neophytes, the OCA could not but further slip into irrelevance. Now,to bring in Jillions, who again is a nice man, an academic, but he too has no effective institutional history of the OCA continues the mistake.

          One proof of this is the dreadful attendance at the Seattle Council. When it was announced that Seattle, a beautiful city to be sure, would be the site, many said that it was a mistake. One wonders if they ever looked back at two previous attempts to have the AAC in the West (Los Angeles and Denver) and both were passed over because of the simple fact that you would be moving 3/4 of the OCA population to these locations. Yes, it doesn’t seem fair that those western regions always have to come east, but the brilliant idea of Bp. Benjamin to have it in Seattle so that the Alaskan clergy could make an easy trip to WA. and then a big trip to Alaska afterwards, well, the Alaskan trip was cancelled for lack of support, and so we all have to travel to Seattle so that a handful of Alaskan clergy can come to the AAC? Does anyone know how many Alaskan clergy are actually coming to Seattle. In the past, even when the AAC was in Florida, there would be about 10 Alaskan clergy and delegates who made the trip.

          Now, I am not saying that Kondratick should come back as chancellor. He would have to be totally nuts to come back to an institution that is so much more dysfunctional than when he was chancellor, but the overkill and the current administrative structure of the OCA has not born good results.

          So, Michael, yes, moving the OCA out of NY and the Northeastern mindset, could very well change the focus of the OCA. Even a move to DC could help. The fact that there is no Orthodox bishop in DC except Jonah, and there are a multitude of Orthodox bishops in NY and NJ, further diminishing the OCA’s effectiveness in that region, a move to another part of the country might prove beneficial.

          But let us not kid ourselves. The Syosset gang would rather bankrkupt the OCA than move out of Syosset. They would rather see the building crumble (which it is) around them than wake up and see that propping up that white elephant of a structure makes little sense.

          The OCA is now so ‘way off Broadway” in the NY Orthodox scene, unlike the bad old days under Kondratick that we just don’t figure into what is important anymore. Honestly, that last OCA website article about Kishkovsky was so pathetic.

          But again, let’s put it into some sort of perspective. While Tosi is constructing a Kishkovsy “vigilant on the job” story playing phone tag with Bp. Serapion, where is the OCA in this weekend’s 20th Anniversary celebration of the enthronement of Pat. Bartholomew? We were not even invited. Period. Shut out.

          Do you think that the OCA would have been shut out of this important event if Kondratick was still the Chancellor? I bet our Metropolitan would have been invited and would have been there in some capacity. Now, with the current brain trust, we don’t even have a congratulatory letter up yet on the OCA website.

          This is just plain embarrassing. And you wonder why folks are ready to say, $50 and NO MORE in Seattle, that is the small number of folks who are actually attending are saying it.

          Dang, where is Stan’s jug when you need it.

          • Sorry folks, somehow this got posted twice. I believe the second one is the final version. It is bad enough you have to wade through what I write once, but twice. Oy!

          • Perhaps — and especially since he used the phrase twice here —
            ‘Jacob’ could explain what he means by ‘the bad old Kondratick days’?

            Prior to FrRK’s being sacked by Met. Herman, OCA Central was actually functional. Since 16 March 2006, nothing but chaos has ensued at the Chancery and in the Holy Synod.

            Seems to me that these present times are the ‘bad old days’. How long, Lord?!

          • Is the OCA sending anyone to Constantinople for the EP’s anniversary? That would send a terrible signal if no one from the OCA went there.

            • Did anyone from the OCA get invited?

              I don’t suggest sending Bishop Melchisedek or Fr. Leonid!

          • Jane Rachel says

            Good post. Thanks for saying it, Jacob.

  11. Patrick Henry Reardon says

    Is there any way we can get this discussion back on the toga?

    Bishop Tikhon’s comment about canvas baptismal robes has started me thinking again.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      Fr. Patrick, I just read this morning (in “In Search of Zarathushtra”) how, thanks to Alexander the Macedonian, the chiton is found on religious images from ancient Balkh and other places in Afghanistan (like the Buddha figures destroyed by the Taliban) and all over Central Asia and further even to India.

  12. Given that this discussion is about the future of the OCA, i would submit to you, good Father, the answer is, No.

    His Grace is catching up being without DSL for a few days, so the rest of us who are in real-time, submit to you that togas vs. the future of the OCA is not a real choice.

    Please feel free to think about canvas, but unless it is about what we in the OCA are dealing with, can we ask that you defer your question or expound on it on another venue.

  13. Are we absolutely sure the Syosset property can be sold? I seem to remember reading something on OCANews a few years back that there was a restriction on the sale of the property in the original agreement that sold it to the-then Metropolia for $1.

    Perhaps someone can dig up that information. I’ve not been successful in locating it.

    • Dear Marie,

      May I suggest that you may wish to first question your recollection that what you remember coming from OCAN?

      Having prefaced my comments, there are no restrictions on the OCA selling Syosset. Any restriction that might have been assigned to the property is long since past.

      Having said this, just because the property was transferred for a nominal sum, it was transferred and is the legal property of the OCA so that they may discharge of it as they may so desire.

      So it comes down to the question – Is there a bias in keeping the property because of those who now occupy it? Another question that can be asked in Seattle.

  14. cynthia curran says

    The last togas in the east existed up to the early 6th century according to John Lydus i a government official that wrote about government social conduct during mainly the 5th and 6th centuries. Lydus states that the government official in the East similar to a mayor of a modern city, perhaps a prefect wore a short toga when he was young. This toga was much shorter than the one of the late Republic or early empire.

  15. Alexey Karlgut says

    Additional #’s re: current assessments

    Albanian Archdiocese —————— (does not pay ‘head tax’) (14 parishes) 
    Archdiocese of Canada —————–(does not pay ‘head tax’) (94 parishes)
    Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.
    Archdiocese of Western Pennsylvania
    Bulgarian Diocese ———————- (does not pay ‘head tax’) (21 parishes)
    Diocese of Alaska ———————–(does not pay ‘head tax’) (92 parishes)
    Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania
    Diocese of Mexico ———————-(does not pay ‘head tax’) (# unknown) 
    Diocese of New England
    Diocese of New York and New Jersey
    Diocese of the Midwest
    Diocese of the South
    Diocese of the West
    Romanian Episcopate ——————- (does not pay ‘head tax’) (112 parishes)

    Total not participating in per capita assessment system (nor reported in OCA census) are 333 OCA parishes, plus Mexico. Current system is neither “Fair Share”, nor equitable, nor growth oriented, or realistic based on today’s economy in North America.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      This is beyond embarrassing, Fr. We’re veering into Micky Mouse territory.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        On second thought, Fr, let’s be fair: either everybody in the OCA pays the head tax or NOBODY pays it. And why do the bishops of the exarchates get an equal vote on the Holy Synod if their flocks aren’t paying their fair share?

        • Here we go again…..numbers don’t tell the whole story. I don’t know about any of the other entities in the list, but Canada CAN NOT pay the so-called “fair share” because Canadian tax laws severely limit the amount of money a non-profit organization can send out of the country. It took us years to finally get this through to the central administration, but it seems that the church in general still doesn’t understand that Canada is another country.

          Nor are there anything like 94 fully functioning parishes in the Archdiocese. Many of these are old prairie churches in communities that have dwindled or disappeared, and have a service once a year if that. Others are home chapels and ‘mission stations’ which consist in little more than an expression of interest by local Orthodox in having a priest come visit their community.

          It also doesn’t seem to me that ‘paying a fair share’ should be the only reason for getting an equal vote. That amounts to giving preference to the rich man who walks into the love feast and is given a better seat….

          • George Michalopulos says

            MatDonna, thank you for replying. If I may: the laws of Canada are as you say they are and must needs be taken into account. Having said that, I need to ask: are the moneys that the ArchCanada sets aside commensurate with what Philly or New York or Dallas sends? If not, why not?

            The other things you list are valid but ultimately excuses nonetheless. As the DOS grew from 6 or so to ~70, it still paid its fair share as did the other territorial dioceses. They didn’t always have priests for every one of the churches listed on the official roles.

            Your argument about the “rich man…being given a better seat” is unfair as well. We are all going through hard economic times now, but no one can say that over the last century we here in the US and Canada have ever had to live in Third World conditions. Our giving has been niggardly but not because we couldn’t afford it.

            I know this is going to sound harsh, but if we truly believed in Christ and the mission of His Church, all of us (myself included) would reach into our pockets and give sacrificially. The excuses are tiresome. “We must work during the day, for the night is coming, when no man can work…”

            • Mat. Donna,

              It is time for Canada to go its own way and unite with other Orthodox Churches in Canada. Canada is a sovereign nation with its own history of how the Orthodox faith came to a great nation “strong and free.”

              Canada in the past collected the OCA assessment but kept it locally and out of it the expenses for their bishop to the HS meetings, AAC, etc. were taken out of that fund, thus it was more or less a wash. I don’t even think that their bishop took the OCA stipend when they gave them out. But maybe he did since it might be easier for money to flow into Canada but more difficult or it to come out.

              Anyway, it is called the Orthodox Church in America, that doesn’t mention Canada or Mexico. Why? Because Canada should unite with her Canadian sister Churches. It makes about as much sense for Canada to be part of the OCA as it would be for all USA OCA parishes to join a united Canadian Church.

              The Canadian tax laws are telling us something folks. Ye who have ears to hear…….

        • Yours is a good question, George, and it’s been asked before. The answer is simple, though the bishops will never openly admit this. The inclusion of the ethnic dioceses into the OCA was very purposeful, to show that the OCA was inclusive of all traditions and ethnicities – that it wasn’t a “Russian” church. It was in essence trying to become THE autocephalous church by cherry picking various dioceses and bishops who would join the OCA with the promise of bringing in their parishes. The bishops balked, of course, when it came to financially supporting the OCA. Every time they were asked, the ethnic bishops threatened to go their own way. It happened every time. At one of the AACs we were treated to a demeaning lecture by Apb Natathaniel about why the Romanians can’t financially support the OCA. This discussion happens every three years before the AAC.

          The Romanians could walk at any minute, and Russia would love to have Alaska back to whip it back into shape. Mexico exists on paper, and the Canadians are a thing unto themselves. Anyway, such a plan to slowly ‘expand’ into a truly respectable presence would have been feasible 30 or 40 years ago when the OCA had credibility and a certain anticipation surrounding it. But regardless of Fr Jillion’s absurd promise to “bring prestige” back to the OCA (few know who he is, and he does not have the international credibility that people are claiming), the only anticipation surrounding the OCA is when the next investigatory committee will be formed, when Jonah will be shown the door to the retirement farm, and when the OCA will have taken on the mantle of a fringe group that no one takes seriously.

          Stokoe liked to decry the Potemkin Villiage atmosphere of the Kondratick regime, but ironically they actully accomplished a tremendous amount in comparison to today. The real Potemkin Villiage is the numbers of the OCA. 21,000 supporting members and dropping. There was a mention in one of the reports that the numbers are closer to 100,000. That’s a pipe dream. That’s not the number of supporting members, that the total number of souls that might possibly be claimed, including people that rarely or ever come to church. Show me what parish is going to pay for such? My priest would have a heart attack if the parish had to pay for every person that walks through the door. But that’s the stupidity you’re working with now.

          • You might have 100K show up on Pascha, when it is six weeks apart for the West and the weather across North America is unseasonably warm. Might!

            I caught that line too, that Jillions wants to bring prestige back to the OCA. Yeah, like we had when Kondratick was chancellor and the OCA by the sheer will and pluck of the man got the OCA invited, seen, and listened to by the Greeks and the Russians. He got Herman to see the EP, which was no easy task. Let me see, how are you, Mr. Jillions going to accomplish getting Jonah to see the EP? Heck even Kyrill?

            The first question the Greeks and the Russians will ask Jillions is “how is Fr Kondratick doing?” The next question will be. “And so, who are you?” Of course with gracious smiles and politeness. Then Jillions will be shown the door and the long ride back to drafty old Syosset with maybe a photo op picture to put on on the OCA website.

            Mr. Jillions. “I knew Jack Kennedy and you sir, are no Jack Kennedy!”

            • Jacob, the real question will be how will Jillions function as Chancellor when the old Chancellor is in the next office? Golden parachutes and “emeritus” titles are rightly given to the old guy who is always thanked for his years of service and then politely shown the door. Otherwise, it doesn’t work.

    • Fr Karlgut:

      I am not familiar at all with your diocese. So forgive me if the following questions are a bit obtuse.

      What is stopping the diocese of NY/NJ from following the lead of the dioceses that do not pay a head tax? Why must there be an All-American council resolution to fix NY/NJ’s problem?

      Hoping you and yours are well,


      • Alexey Karlgut says

        Dear Sam,

        “What is stopping the diocese of NY/NJ from following the lead of the dioceses that do not pay a head tax? Why must there be an All-American council resolution to fix NY/NJ’s problem?

        Hoping you and yours are well,”

        It’s OCA’s problem, not NY/NJ – your question may be directed to all dioceses that pay a head tax. We act as the Church in a concilliar way, not stop paying on our own, as some did in the past. Its about the direction of the church for the future.  

        Thanks for hoping that I and mine are well, if you are interested I have blood pressure, incontinence, gout, migraines, problem with overweight, sclerosis, tri-polar disorder, early onset of diabetes, well, you get the picture. 🙂 thanks for asking.           

        • Fr. Alexey, can you please tell me what in the world is tripolar disorder?

          • Alexey Karlgut says


            • This is a great podvig, oche! Thanks for your response.


              • Alexey Karlgut says

                You have no idea!
                Its like Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler, Attila the Hun rolled into one, with healthy sprinkling of Ben Franklin, Edison, Einstein, and Herman Cain together with 9-9-9 plan or 10-10-10 plan!
                It is truly a podvig and I appreciate that you understood the nature of the ‘beast’!
                Truly, thank you!

        • Fr Alexey, IMHO, your posting was a blessing. I never realized how unfair the entire situation is. It’s almost brought me to the point of being against the $50 resolution. Now I think it should be zero. (I’ll take the $50 though as a good start!)

          Thank you again.


      • NY-NJ’s problem is a declining census. Their financial impoverishment is just proof of that. They’ve not had a bishop for 30 years or so. And, there’s some $80,000 missing, and no one can be bothered to look for it. Ergo, the natural solution is to impoverish Syosset.

        • No, they didn’t have a bishop from when Archbishop Peter retired, which was in 2005 or so. The Diocese of New York was then merged with the Diocese of Washington.

          As for the DNY’s financial problems, their problem was the fact that they didn’t really keep any financial records to speak of. That little problem rolled downhill from Syosset, if I remember correctly. Their solution is to remove the burden on laypeople to support the diocese on top of the $105 assessment. This will help undo the damage of past mismanagement by allowing the diocese to develop its assets and initiate new ministries.

          • Ted, that’s unfair. The “impoverishment” you speak of is endemic to most all of American Orthodoxy. It comes from a failure of vision. The irony is, here’s comes +Jonah on the scene, the one man who can speak to America without all of the extraneous talk of Canon This or Battle of That and what does the one Anglophone jurisdiction do? Try to get rid of him.

          • In what sense did Archbishop Peter exercise actual episcopal oversight, direction, and leadership?

            • George Michalopulos says

              Ted, that’s an idiotic question, given the quality of the episcopate. In what sense did any of the bishops of the OCA in the recent past (with few, precious few, exceptions) “exercise actual episcopal oversight, direction, and leadership?”

              We didn’t get into this mess overnight. Ever since the OCA passed over +Dmitri (thankfully I might add for the South) it has never had anything but mediocre –at best–leadership. And not just on the national level but I dare say in most of the dioceses as well. The late Peter may have been an archpastor of limited capabilities but he was only different in degree from most of the rest, not in kind.

      • Sam, the answer to your question is that whether the AAC votes to lower the assessment or not, it will drop regardless. Ever since 2006, the OCA overall has been on a trajectory of failure (the South excluded).

  16. George,

    This is the double-standard OCA funding reality that has been with us since each of the so-called Ethnic dioceses entered the OCA. These were the deals struck and guided by Fr Alexander S. to get these groups under the OCA big tent, thus further legitimizing us as a local Church. I am not saying it was a bad strategy, but what I think Fr. Alexander never conceived was that 40+ years later these ethnic dioceses would still be so isolated from the rest of the OCA.

    Nathaniel is the biggest culprit in all of this. He has fanatically kept the Romanian Episcopate financially isolated from the OCA parroting the original agreement between the Romanians and the OCA as if it could never be reconsidered. In fact, he has used the OCA as canonical cover so that he can live his lifestyle away from the prying eyes of the OCA organization. This guy who gives a pittance of money annually to the OCA has had a disproportionate influence on the OCA sitting as a full member of her Synod.

    Any talk of the ethnic dioceses paying their fair share is swatted aside by Nathaniel and most recently using the threat that he will leave and reunite with the Romanian Patriarchate.

    Nathaniel has a very long memory and he never forgets. One might ask why his auxiliary Bishop Irineu is never allowed to come to Synod meetings, whereas other auxiliary bishops routinely attend. It has something to do with Irineu calling to the attention of then Met. Herman certain proclivities of Nathaniel.

    I wonder if Bishop Tikhon could fill in some details.

    There is a particular stench that surrounds Nathaniel and his sidekicks Bishop Mark Forsburg and Deacon Gregory Burke. Now, we have this site “We are their legacy.” I wonder what legacy they really wish to leave us with?

    • Amos, I really wanna explore the whole thing about ethnic dioceses. IMHO, when they were brought into the OCA, they should have been done so with a “sunset clause.” Something like: “after 30 years, the [insert ethnic] diocese will become fully part of the OCA and its various parishes will be apportioned in a truly territorial manner. Because we do not want to lose the cultural origins and usages of the [said] diocese, the Bishop of [City A] will be known forthwith as the ‘Guarantor of the [ethnic] usage.’ All former parishes of the [ethnic] Diocese will be able to access the records, archives, and liturgical needs from said Guarantor as they see fit with the blessing of their territorial bishop.”

  17. Heracleides says

    While working on another project, I was reminded that in just a few weeks we will mark the seventh anniversary of the Lush of the West’s DUI accident / Drunk & Disorderly incident in Nevada. To highlight this ever-memorial event in the OCA’s history since autocephaly, I composed the following image, which is titled “Benny on Board” and may be viewed here:

  18. Helga,

    For what it’s worth, puts the estimated cost of a taxi

    to the OCA Chancery (6850 N. Hempstead Turnpike, Syosset, NY)
    from JFK Airport: $79.99
    from La Guardia Airport: $77.36

    to St Nicholas Cathedral in DC (3500 Massachusetts Ave Northwest)
    from Ronald Reagan Airport $19.94

    Office Space Comparison using

    in OCA Chancery zipcode (11791)
    $24 per sf/yr i.e. $120k per yr (for space comparable to the DC space below)

    in St Nicholas zipcode (20007)
    $21 to $40 per sf/yr i.e. $105k to $200k per yr

    A Chancery in the 20007 zipcode would be right near embassy row, in the heart of the capital. It’d be a place that many, many, more people would come to visit than Syosset, which is hard to find and out of the way, kind of like alot of OCA parishes.

    Additionally, the housing options within a reasonable commute of the DC zipcode are far greater (including rentals for employees on a tight budget) than for the Syosset zipcode.


    • Thanks, J-TAC! Great research!

    • Lola J. Lee Beno says

      Caveat – ticket prices are expensive flying out of National Airport, and flight routes and times are limited. A more realistic comparison would be to use Dulles (which also handles international flights) and calculate taxi fares from there. There’s also the metro to take into account – WMATA is expanding to Dulles and at a future date it would be simple to take the metro train from Dulles into DC and catch a taxi, perhaps from Dupont Circle, for instance.

  19. So what to do about the OCA’s charter from the NY legislature? Legally, we can’t move out of the state unless that’s resolved.

    • Pravoslavnie says

      A corporation can move its HQ anywhere it wants to. It just needs to maintain an agent in it’s state of incorporation. This has been mentioned here before. Anyone with a pulse and an address in NYS could be the official OCA agent. It would make sense to nominate an OCA priest.

      • Or Bishop Michael. He lives in Bronxville, New York.

        • Pravoslavnie says

          Point well taken Helga, but I was thinking that OCA could make an arrangement with SVS to use its address and nominate a staff member to become the OCA registered agent. Corporations often nominate third parties as registered agents, and pay a nominal fee for such services. For that matter, the OCA could move the central archive there too, and perhaps subsidize the seminary library to maintain it.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Wow! A bishop of New York IN New York!!! Who’da thunk it? Oh wait, don’t tell me, I think I know the answer! Why lookee here –it’s in the canons of the Church! Smart whippersnappers those Church Fathers.

          • Yes, George. Next thing you know, the Archbishop of Washington, D.C., will start living in Washington, D.C. IT’S MADNESS, I TELLS YA!

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Helga, Stop It! you’re killing me! Logic and common sense have nothing to do with the Syosset Soviet!

      • Not really. This is not some kind of out-of-state corporation chartered by the state’s Secretary of State. The OCA’s legal entity is chartered by the NY state legislature, in an official act of that legislature. In section 12 of the charter, it says The principal office of the corporation is to be located in the city, county, and state of New York. (As it is, we’re already not in the city and county of New York, but the state has commonly allowed this to mean the extended NYC area, including Long Island.) “Principal office” is not the same as the office of the registered agent. It’s where actual exeutive business is conducted and where corporate records are maintained. (Just search the web to see.)

        • Ted, that’s what lawyers are for. In fact, then entire charter of the OCA could be amended to make its “principal office” in Delaware, which is contiguous to DC and is the official state address many of the “principal offices” of a lot of Fortune 500 corporations.

          Again, the near-worship of NY state as being the center of the American Orthodox universe is a holdover of the eparchial/immigrant past. Most [insert ethnic immigrant group here] lived in NYC therefore it made sense to locate the Archbishop of said eparchy in NY state somewhere. The canonical norm for a local, autocephalous church is in the capital of the territorial polity. That’s why the the episcopate of Russia migrated from Kiev, to Suzdal, to finally Moscow. That’s why the metropolitan see of Thrace went from Heracleia to New Rome (C’pole). Etc.

        • Ted,

          What do you think is going to happen if the OCA moves its HQ to another state? Will the special police of the NYS legislature swoop down on the moving vans and marshall then back into the big white elephant, securing a fence around the property so that nary a person can leave?

          I mean, really, all the OCA need do is recharter in another state and inform the NY. Sorry you bought that Stokoe ploy – insert big hook in mouth and yank!

        • Pravoslavnie says


          A corporation can have its HQ on the surface of the moon of it wants to. Since Syosset is about as far from New York City as the dark side of the moon, OCA’s principal office can be a folding card table in the basement of any building in NYS. They only need to maintain an address in their state of incorporation, a registered agent who is available to receive summons, and to file the annual reports listing officers, etc..

          Also states don’t use their legislatures to incorporate organizations anymore. In the case of NYS, OCA’s charter has been superceded by both the NYS Religious Corporations Act (2006) and the general act on non-profit corporations.

          • If what you say is true, is it possible that because of the limited experience of us who serve on the Orthodox Church in America Metropolitan Council and the “group think” that overtakes us, and not aware of the NYS RCA of 2006, we perpetuate a false understanding of the relationship of the OCA to the State of NY? If that is so, we do a disservice to the people we are called to represent. This makes me give pause as to why I have served on this body.

            • Nikos says:
              October 22, 2011 at 3:13 pm

              This makes me give pause as to why I have served on this body.

              Based on the public record of the MC performance I believe there are more than this reason you might want to reconsider your participation.

              • On Friday, September 21, 2011, Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, Secretary of the
                Orthodox Church in America, announced that Archpriest John A. Jillions has
                accepted the position of Chancellor.

                Selected from a slate of several applicants, Father John was confirmed by the
                Holy Synod of Bishops upon the recommendation of the Metropolitan Council at
                their fall sessions.

                • Stephen,

                  I think you may have meant, October 21, but who knows the fix might have been in since September 21

                  However, now that the OCA is reporting that Fr. Jillions has accepted the offer to be the new OCA Chancellor, I, as an assessment paying member would like to know what he is getting paid and what were the terms of his engagement? Reading the minutes of the MC (also posted on the oca website) they are about as transparent as a glass of dirty water.

                  Hiding behind the guise of going into “Executive Session” the MC has further separated itself from the rest of us and created self-serving layers of new OCA bureaucracy further intrenching and making itself, “indispensible” for the good working of the shrinking OCA.

                  The point being, who is going to pay for all of this? The OCA brass just go along thinking that the rest of us are going to roll over and keep funding a structure that has not proven it can spread the Gospel, let alone get simple things done to promote the work of the OCA in international and domestic inter-Church relations.

                  I just get this sinking feeling that no matter what people say in Seattle, we are going to be placated and ignored. I hope I am wrong, but it now appears clear that the MC is running the OCA and it is doing it behind closed doors.

                  Sure makes you feel confident about the future in the new open and transparent OCA.

                  • I was quoting the OCA offical website…isn’t that interesting?


                      Now its correct…I swear it said September..

                      I am now in favor of the $50 fact I think it should be $25…lets have strong dioceses..I live in the Diocese of the South where the priest talks about “collecting the Tithes” during the Divine Liturgy..I never heard that at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Chicago where I belonged before I moved here..they talked about “the offering” which is what they also say at the GOA parish here.This is part of the legacy of Archbishop Dmitri of Blessed Memory and it seems to work….works a lot better than Syosset

                    • Here you go…see…I am not crazy

                      October 23, 2011

                      Archpriest John A. Jillions accepts Chancellor’s position

                      SYOSSET, NY [OCA]

                      On Friday, September 21, 2011, Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, Secretary of the Orthodox Church in America, announced that Archpriest John A. Jillions has accepted the position of Chancellor.

                      Selected from a slate of several applicants, Father John was confirmed by the Holy Synod of Bishops upon the recommendation of the Metropolitan Council at their fall sessions.

                      A life-long member of the Orthodox Church in America, Father John was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1955. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from McGill University. In 1980, he received the Master of Divinity degree from Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Crestwood, NY, from which he also received the Doctor of Ministry degree in 2005. His doctoral thesis, “The Language of Enemies,” traces the ways Orthodox Christians perceive and treat their “enemies” and uses some of the insights of contemporary conflict studies. In 2002, he was awarded the Ph.D. in New Testament from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. His doctoral dissertation offered a comparative study of the ways divine guidance was understood in the first century Pauline, Greco-Roman, and Jewish worlds.

                      After his ordination to the diaconate and the priesthood in 1981 and 1984 respectively by His Eminence, the late Archbishop Peter [L’Huillier], he served Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral, New York, NY; Annunciation Church, Brisbane, Australia; Holy Trinity Church, Rahway, NJ; Saint George Church, Thessaloniki, Greece; and Saint Ephraim the Syrian Church, Cambridge, UK, before returning to Canada in 2003. He was a founding director of the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge and served as its first Principal from 1999 until 2002. Previously, he served as administrator of Saints Cosmas and Damian Adult Home, Staten Island, NY, and as a bank officer with Bankers Trust. In the early 1990s, he served briefly as a Chaplain (Captain) in the US Air Force Reserve.

                      Since 2003, Father John served as an Associate Professor with the Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies at Saint Paul University, Ottawa, where he taught in the areas of 20th century Orthodox Christian thought, New Testament, ecumenism, and practical theology. Concurrently, he served as Dean of Ottawa’s Annunciation Cathedral until 2009, at which time he was attached to the cathedral while serving “on loan” to the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto, servicing a small community in Brockville, Ontario. He also has been a contributor to the “Ask the Religion Experts” column of The Ottawa Citizen and most recently has served as one of the vice-presidents of the Canadian Council of Churches.

                      He and his wife, Denise Melligon, have three grown sons — Andrew (married to Alice), Alex (married to Meaghan), and Anthony.

                      Father John’s introductory [2 page] letter to the Search Committee, which outlines his priorities, may be read HERE.


                    • I believe you that they printed Sep. 21. They probably read this blog and they didn’t notice it until we brought to their attention. But, then again that is what you get for $140K a year.

                  • You know, all this “executive session” stuff means no minutes. Where’s the Accountability and Transparency?

                    • George,

                      There is no accountability and transparency in the new OCA. Period. What was the contract agreement with Jillions? What offer was he made? How many years contract? What if he is fired? Is there a buyout? I have a strong hunch this was all done behing the secret wall of “executive session.” What else was done there that the Church doesn’t know about? It just makes you wonder what other $8.1 million decisions they are up to?

                      Having said this, is it only me or does anyone else think that this roll out of the new chancellor is just in time for a redux of Pittsburgh, that is, as Fr Alexey noted, in the euphoria of the election of Jonah, the WPA attempt to reduce the OCA assessment to $50 was tabled. Are they playing the same game plan again giving the new chancellor a chance to bring a new spirit and thus he will need the $105 to pay his salary?

                      It just may be the jaded part of me, but I think this whole thing has been too well orchestrated. But, in any event, let’s be ready if it does pass that the Synod, “for the good of the Church” will veto the conciliar mind of the Church and impose the $105.

                    • Jacob, keep in mind that there won’t be any $140k salary paid to Fr. Jillions or anyone else if the dioceses stop paying their assessments.

                      The Synod can try to pull that, but I’m hoping people won’t stand for it.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Jacob, my evil twin Skippy actually wants to the Stokovites to prevail and block the lowering of the assessment to $50. That way the corrupt administration in Syosset will reap the howls of outrage and giving will plummet even more.

                  • Nikos, about executive session – it’s interesting that Mark Stokoe’s threat to Metropolitan Jonah in 2009 hinged on Stokoe’s no longer being bound by executive session if he were taken off the council.

                    Stokoe is no longer on the council, so any of his friends on the council can divulge whatever confidential information they please (Saint Jillions becoming chancellor, etc.) with absolute impunity, since it could have come from anyone on the council.

                    In short, the Metropolitan Council can no longer effectively operate because it is unable to use executive session in the manner in which it is intended.

                    • Thank you again, Helga, for making this fact known way back in Feb or Mar I believe. You did the OCA a great service in exposing Stokoe’s stranglehold over certain people using his own words no less.

          • Lola J. Lee Beno says

            That is true. When we set up our business, we incorporated in a state that none of us live in (but which one of us has family ties to). I cannot see why this wouldn’t be true for non-profit organizations as well.

        • That’s just ridiculous and completely not true. Any corporate entity can move anywhere they want, whenever they want (except for Boeing, but that’s another blog) change the charter, do whatever they want. There’s absolutely nothing holding them in NY.

  20. Now JohnP,

    How do you know that the crack MC Ethics committee didn’t take up your point about Reeves, Stokoe and Skordinski. Of course, if they did it was in Executive Session and of course, who knows what they said or did in Executive Session?

    We pay for these folks to travel to NY how many times a year, we house them we feed them, we spend countless man hours catering to their ever expanding structure and what do we get? Redacted minutes that are about as revealing as Nixon’s transcripts of the Watergate tapes. Same type of transparency if you ask me.

    Oh, yes, they have to do it to protect the legal behind of the OCA. Well if that is the case, it sure gives me the warm fuzzies to want to keep funding a Church that has to go into so many Executive Sessions for legal reasons.

    But, don’t you worry, you keep givin that $105 and everything will be just fine! Trust me, with another $8.1 million, we will get it right this time!

    • Jacob, I think the answer to your question is in the resolution they passed thanking Stokoe and Dr. Skordinski for their “service”.

      What service would that be, O Metropolitan Council less the one abstention?

      Would that service be publishing biased information and outright lies about Metropolitan Jonah?

      Would it be putting down Metropolitan Jonah over and over in an attempt to humiliate him and ruin his reputation?

      Would it be divulging confidential information, including the identities of the individuals named in the SMPAC report, putting the OCA at legal risk?

      If this is their idea of “service”, it’s no wonder they think Metropolitan Jonah is incompetent.

      • Obviously, we all know that each of of those statements and votes are carefully staged to give a big middle finger to whomever the bishop is that they want to tell off at that particular moment. So that one was for Matthias. Think of it as the OCA institutional welcome wagon.

        Welcome to the OCA, Your Grace!

        • They gave the “middle finger” to all of us here, too, and to all of enlightened intelligent laity still remaining in the OCA.

    • The larger question is, what is all this busyness on the MC with its commmittees and investigations getting us? Is this about making a ‘purer’ OCA, sweeping it clean to keep only the chosen ones?

      I’m convinced that the obsession in the OCA with committees and investigations is symptomatic of a floundering institution in severe decline. It makes them feel like they’re doing something productive. Imgaine the same time, energy, money, talent, and resources put into actually growing the church, growing ministries, helping parishes, expanding outreach.

      What a complete and utter failure.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Unfortunately Spasi, you are correct. This loss of vision which exists in the head of organism that is tin-eared and whose bottom is hide-bound is organically incapable of saving itself.

        What astounds me is how the enemies of +Jonah have consistently worked against their own best interests. Not only are they increasing their unpopularity factor ten-fold by drawing from the same inbred talent pool that has long characterized the “aristocracy” of the OCA, they are imperiling the continued viability of the existence of Syosset itself. It is entirely possible that their destructive tendencies are going to result in the implosion of the OCA (I’m not completely convinced of that presently).

        • There’s definitely a litmus test for service in the OCA now. For instance, Stokoe coined the term “Bobite,” and hammered a particular priest from the Midwest with it, when his name came up as a possible Chancellor last year. If you had anything to do with Kondratick, if you stood in the same room with him, if you smiled at him, if you delivered his newspaper, you need not apply to today’s OCA.

          And of course, the newest litmus test is a breathless love of what the elite in the OCA call ‘conciliarity,’ which is a very particular kind of conciliiarity, never known before. It was noted that the new chancellor made sure everyone knew that he would reach out to groups in the OCA to bring everyone together. Unfortunately, he failed to mention a particular group: The Clergy. Was that an oversight? I doubt it. In fact, I believe it was quite purposeful.

          It’s ironic that the new OCA is looking very much like Orthodox parishes in the US of the 40’s and 50’s. Not a great time to be a priest, unless you want to be treated like the hired help, instead of the presider over the local community of believers.

        • It certainly won’t be a dramatic implosion, and yes, the OCA will exist. But there’s simply no doubt that this decline is not going to be reversed, not with the sickness at the center of it. God is pruning His vineyard and throwing the trimmings into the fire.

          I do think that as the numbers get smaller and smaller, that the decline will become more marked and severe. My prediction is that there are probably a hundred or so parishes that will be closed, or at least, will not have a priest assigned. The OCA decline will not only be numeric, but in the number of parishes. As was noted in a previous post, many of the “700” parishes and institutions are merely bulidings, chapels, parishes that probably once served regularly, but now just stand as a consecrated altar. It’s a shame that the census data is never released, becuase a nice spreadsheet and chart showing what is really going on would be completely enlightening to everyone.

          • George Michalopulos says

            My hunch is that you’re correct. You’ll know decline will start accelerating when the 22,000 become 18,000, then 15,000 and that they start laying off more people in Syosset and farming out the various jobs off-site to stipendiaries. Then it’ll only be a matter of time before Syosset is put up for sale. Unfortunately, as anybody in real-estate knows, it’s better sell when you don’t have to than when you’re forced to. If Syosset if foreclosed or if one of the Dioceses files bankruptcy, then we’ll know the end has come.

            On an individual level how will this play out? When individual priests and parishes have to start cutting corners to just keep the parish open, then you’ll see corruption, not only financial but moral as well. I could very easily envision priests turning a blind eye to open immorality within their parishes provided that those who are immoral are among the more faithful attendees. From there it’s not a big step to Orthodox commitment ceremonies, especially if there’s a small financial windfall for the trouble.

            I became alarmed to this possibility when Bishop +Nikon was elected as Bishop of Boston and in an interview with the local paper he was asked about gay “marriage.” Instead of taking the Philipian approach and laughing at the questioner, he said something like the Orthodox Church isn’t ready for that yet. I know he was trying to be politically correct and hoping that his answer would be understand as code to the Traditionalists as “don’t worry, ain’t gonna happen” but the plain words don’t indicate that. In fact, they foresee a time when it will happen. And that’s a pity because he’s really a good bishop.

          • Spasi,

            Enlightening more to those outside the OCA who would see clearly what a puny player the OCA is here in the USA and getter smaller by the day.

            Your comments about the MC are spot on. Since they are incapable of doing any serious work that would help the OCA grow, they revert to busy work to make them feel like they are really essential. Like a cancer growing out of control, the MC is spreading over the body of the central church and killing it. Ethics, Crisis Management, Investigations, Special Investigations, Executive Sessions.

            What are these designed to instill in the hearts and minds of the clergy and laity? Those MC minutes were a perfect microcosm of the OCA dysfunction. Not transparent a small group increasing their market share of administration.

            Now, we will gather in Seattle, with our bishops sitting on the podium wishing they could be anyplace but there and sitting with anyone else except the one they are sitting next to. The bishops thoughts not on the building up of the Church but how they can get rid of Jonah. And, behind the scenes, the Syosset Inner Circle trying to figure out how they can still get their big compensation packages, still suck money away from parishes and dioceses so that they can impress us with their Ethics, Crisis Management, Investigations, and Executive Sessions.

            A close study of the Agenda for the AAC reveals another sleight of hand to push the issues of money to the back-end of the agenda after the maestros of mismanagement have dazzled us with their Power-points and lofty speeches making the case how they are really working for us and we just can’t do it without them.

            How refreshing it would be if Jonah stood up and spoke from the heart like he did in Pittsburgh and told us what we know, that the administration in Syosset is a broken failure and we don’t deserve your support because we (the bishops, mc, chancery staff) have all failed in being good stewards of the Churches resources. He should take the blame as the Captain of the ship, but like a captain he should also be able to get his own crew and not have people imposed on him by others who have wasted $8.1 millions in the past three years. And, what, tell me, what do we have to show for it?

            We have a new chancellor who sees his role as bringing all the warring parties back together. Excuse me but who exactly do you think you are? What exactly do you think you are being paid to do? You are not the focus of unity for the OCA. That is the role of the Metropolitan and the Synod. Your comments are an insight into exactly the divisions that have been caused in the OCA in the last three years and make the point that we are throwing good money after bad.

            And, so, what is the solution? Well, of course, easy. Get a new Metropolitan and all will be well. Wasn’t that what Stokoe and Wheeler told us. Get rid of Kondratick and all will be well. Get rid of Herman and all will be well. So, get rid of Jonah and all will be well. I don’t think so and the $50 assessment push is a clear indication that large segments of the OCA don’t buy that slash and burn policy anymore.

            Of course, with Jillions our new chancellor savior, being the willing voice of Stokoe and Wheeler and the MC, now we can rest easy that their vision of the OCA will finally be implemented. And what is that vision? A stronger Syosset just like under Kondratick draining limited funds away from parishes. New faces, same old story.

            So Jillions will make his inaugural speech in Seattle. He will assuage our doubts, calm our fears and make the case for more money to Syosset not less. I wonder if he would take the job if he was getting 1/2 what the ex-chancellor, still getting paid like he was the chancellor, and who if the assessment stays at $105 will be refashioned into a new job in Syosset, ex-chancellor? If he was smart he would stand up there and say, “no matter what the assessment is and if it goes to $50, I will work just as hard. I will do my job. I don’t blame you for being doubtful and I can understand that the $50 assessment is not just about keeping more money locally, but it is also a statement about our collective job performance in the central church. If the assessment goes to $50, then I will work even harder to earn your trust back and in three years present my job performance and that of the chancery staff and the MC and make the case that we deserve a raise.”

            Wouldn’t that be refreshing, but it won’t happen. They will expect us to keep paying them at $105 and will cry doom and gloom if they don’t get it. That the OCA will go out of business – the OCA is going out of business at $105, so that dog won’t hunt.

            So, it is up to us to speak. That is the conciliar Church we have been told that makes the OCA unique. The Synod might veto the voice of the people; they have done that in the past but census numbers will continue to decline, seminary enrollment will continue to decline and all those churches in the OCA that are hanging on by a thread, will further decline and there won’t be enough clergy to start new missions. The cycle of decline will go on unabated. However you all in Syosset keep those Ethics, Crisis Management, Investigations committees and Executive Sessions going. We feel so much more secure knowing you are on the job.

            • How refreshing it would be if Jonah stood up and spoke from the heart like he did in Pittsburgh and told us what we know, that the administration in Syosset is a broken failure and we don’t deserve your support because we (the bishops, mc, chancery staff) have all failed in being good stewards of the Churches resources.

              Actually, i think such a speech would be the same old same old from him. What he needs to do is put on his big boy pants and become a leader. He could have started at the MC meeting by dismissing these so-called consultants like Fr Hopko. “Thank you Fr Thomas, as the presiding hierarch and spiritual leader of the church, your services, as conflicting as they were, are no longer needed. There’s the door.” But he didn’t. He lets them run roughshod over him. I’m quite sure, sinner that I am, that Jonah was doing the right thing, turning the other cheek, allowing insults from his staff, being maligned and called mentally unstable. But it”s not the attitude that the OCA Metropolitan needs at this time. We need a leader that’s going to speak purposefully and clearly, and outline the vision, and get people to follow him.

              • Oh, Spasi. You are so yesterday. So, what’s the word, old world in your thinking. This hierarchical church model you still slavishly hold on to is not what the conciliar OCA is all about.

                In the Hopko, Stokoe, Wheeler, Arida, Jillions, Garklavs, Vinogradov and Melchizedek. OCA, the senior Protopresbyter can call the Metropolitan a nut-case. He can swear his allegiance to Stokoe for the entire world to see and proclaim that the Holy Spirit was not present in Pittsburgh. In due time the other players in this saga will all agree, each in their specific role to confirm how dangerous Jonah is and how he must be removed.

                Enter Jillions, the hand-picked of this band of brothers. He will further move the ship of the OCA into the future based on his extensive years of experience. He will call us to greater Christian faith like he did when he was in Rahway encouraging his brother priests of his deanery to come with him to the Billy Graham Crusade in NY. Thankfully his brothers declined the invitation.

                Any attempt by Jonah to assert any episcopal prerogatives as Metropolitan will be checked by the new Inner Circle. Hence the cue to the masses in Melchizedek’s report to the MC, not redacted in the public minutes but I am sure hammered home in Executive Session.

                Bishop Melchesedek stated that the Holy Synod is functioning according to its resolutions on operations and procedure that were adopted in May. He outlined how this has occurred in specific situation. (sic)

                Syosset will now be the sandbox for the above Enlightened Eight. Hopko who was released as dean of SVS after his abysmal tenure as dean. Wheeler who was out the door at SVS and came hat in hand to Syosset begging for a job and got one from Kondratick (Kondratick should have been fired for that mistake.) Then Wheeler out the door because of the threats to expose Theodosius. Stokoe, fired from Syosset for reasons known to some, all of whom no longer work in Syosset and some no longer clergy. Arida, pushing his agenda for the Church to become more inclusive to gays and lesbians. Vinogradov who felt he was above the rest of us schleps (even his bishop) and liturgically concelebrated with heretics at a non-Orthodox wedding. Garklavs, the fired one (still getting paid by us) who along with Stokoe, Skordinski, Reeves, Solodow all connived to oust Jonah. And Melchizedek, still trying to settle scores with Jonah because Jonah did not support his nomination as bishop of Pittsburgh, but who relented, but that was not good enough for Mel. So he had to blackball nuns and make up outrageous stories about rape.

                So now enters into this house of horrors, John Jillions. As long as Jillions sides with those opposed to Jonah, he will be safe. As long as he does the bidding of the MC and those who got him the chancellor’s job, he will be safe. Thus his prime loyalty will be to the Inner Circle and not to the rest of us, we who pay his salary whatever it may be since all that was decided in Executive Session.

                This is the new OCA run by egotistical northeastern progressives with their own agenda, using the cover of keeping the dream alive. Folks the dream has become a nightmare and it died with Fr Alexander Schmemann. I may be wrong, but I don’t believe that the Enlightened Eight can bring it back.

                • “The dream” is dead becasue the other churches say it’s dead. Back in the day, the OCA was actually something to contend with. It was a thorn in the side of GOA and ROCOR. It was a respected sister and daughter to MP. But in the past five years, the other churches moved on while the OCA played junior detective in a paranoid bout of nasty backstabbing that has yet to abbate.

                  I honestly felt a tinge of saddness in my heart for Matushka Juliana Schmemann, whose words would normally have inspired and invigorated a church which was willing to listen to the echoes of Fr Schmemann. But for myself, the folks at “We are Their Legacy,” and the rest of the gang at the Syosset Bishop Mill and Emporium, are not worthy inheiritors of that mantle, and hence her words fall flat (but that’s not of her own doing). Her plea was rather sad and somewhat out of step with the times. It reminded me of aimless statements of overthrown kings and queens to encourage their subjects to fight on, right before the imminent fall of their monarchy.

                  The OCA will have to settle for whatever position the others assign to her. There won’t be any changing of that. I believe that Jonah was preemtively trying to avoid the humiliation of being put into a place we do not want to be by offering ourselves up to step down a notch, if you will. But there will be nothing more pathetic then our cries of autocephaly to the churches who know now that we are simply a widely-acknowledged failure.

                  • JohnP

                    The DOS indeed does appear to be the exception in the OCA which makes their relative strength in the midst of the OCA weakness something that the Syosset Inner Circle should pay attention to. But, of course, they continue in their contempt for the South. The so-called OCA Strategic Plan only gives lukewarm lip service to what is already a reality in the DOS:

                    Objective 1: Continue the transition towards tithing and proportional giving at all levels of
                    the Church. (Ad-hoc Committee on Finance in coordination with diocesan officers; 2012-

                    The majority of diocesan leaders appear supportive of this transition in principle – but each
                    diocese finds itself in a different set of circumstances and has a different timescale for making
                    the transition. Some recommended actions are:
                    • Have diocesan hierarchs affirm a transition to proportionate giving as a goal and to
                    develop a plan and timescale for their particular diocese to make that transition.
                    • Freeze the diocesan contributions to the central administration budget at their current
                    levels for XX years, so as to allow each diocese to make the transition over to
                    proportionate giving on their own timescale but no later than 20XX.

                    This same “committment” was voiced in how many previous AAC’s in one form or another, even going back to 1989 in St. Louis when the Church voted to give 10% to the CCA. That idea was blown out of the water for the same reason it will be this year with the $50 assessment, according to Mark Stokoe talking about the $50 Assessment proposal:

                    Yes, it is the worst thing that could happen to the OCA. It would end the OCA, period. Decentralization is just another word for “extinguish”. Don’t fool yourself, or others.

                    So, we can already hear the howls from Syosset. They will go something like this, as several speakers will come to the microphone from the podium and from the floor (all well orchestrated) ” We must give Fr. Jillions (add appropriate glowing words here) a chance to turn around the OCA. He is the man to do it. But if we cut the Assessment to $50 we will be handing him an impossible task.” This will all be staged and us poor saps will beat our breasts and say “We must give Syosset another $8.1 million dollars. They will surely not fail this time.”

                    So in three years, the DOS will still be growing, and the rest of the OCA will still be dying, no closer to doing the right thing in 2014 than we did in 1989.

            • JohnP,

              If the OCA won’t die, may I ask you, “What is the definition of life” under the current circumstances? At the moment we are canonical, but if Jonah is ousted for anything less than proven uncanonical behavior, we will lose our only link to being even canonical, according to Moscow.

              If life is defined as being on “life support” then we are alive. But is that life? As Mr. Stokoe once stated, “we are at a tipping point.” We are indeed, but not the tipping point that he proffered. We have drained of another how many of hundreds of thousands of dollars from our parishes to put on the AAC stage show; and what will be the result?

              Jonah will put on a brave front as a good solider, all the while his loving brother bishops will be wishing they wore the white hat. The MC will sit there like a jury measuring his every word like the Sanhedrin. The esteemed Protopresbyter Hopko will sit in an honored seat as the spiritual advisor of the MC, judging the sanity of every word the Metropolitan utters.

              Listen, I have done the Inner Circle a great service by lowering expectations to ground level. With my only expectation that those of us who consider the service of the MC and the likes Benjamin, Nathaniel and Tikhon to be a failure, I hope to leave Seattle with all my limbs in tact. I know that anything I might say will be dismissed as a disgruntled delegate, out of touch with the insight of the Inner Circle.

              Oh well, you are right JohnD. Life goes on and I will return to my parish, led by a faithful priest, loving parishioners shielded from Syosset because most of my brethren don’t even know where Syosset is. For us, our connection to Syosset ends at our diocesan border.

  21. OK, you may file this comment under nitpicking, but read this from the OCA website:

    Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, Secretary of the Orthodox Church in America, wishes to remind those who will be attending the 16th All-American Council that hard copies of the Council reports will not be available at the Council.

    Tosi “wishes to remind us”? What is this, a note coming home in our backpacks from our First Grade teacher?

    Does our Syosset staff have an email list of those registered to the AAC? If they do, would not such a “reminder” be best sent via that venue rather than on the OCA website? Of course, unless you are trying to prove to us that you, Fr. Tosi, are on the job making sure none of us numb nuts won’t have those stellar reports at the ready when you read them again to us in Seattle.

    I mean, really, I already graduated from the First Grade. Sheesh!

    • It is supposed to demonstrate that the current $105 assessment is inadequate to the OCA’s most basic clerical needs (pun intended).

    • I read Fr. Eric’s reminder in practical terms, because I can just imagine there are some computer-illiterate delegates out there who will come to Seattle and say “WHAT DO YOU MEAN THERE AREN’T ANY HANDBOOKS AVAILABLE?!”.

      I don’t really see what the advantage was to make the delegates print the materials, but provide binders at the council. So the delegates are supposed to just bring 150 pages of unbound documents to the council? Why not just let the delegates use their own binders? If I were a delegate, that’s what I would do.

  22. Jane Rachel says

    People, what if something RIGHT happens in the OCA this weekend at the AAC? What will we do? It’s been so long.

    • Oh, I don’t know, Jane.

      I think we elected a Metropolitan who could lead through the turning point.

      If we will follow him.

      The man needs political capital – that’s what Syosset, the HS, and the MC have been systematically stripping from him. But if the people follow……..

  23. Rejoice and again I say rejoice!

    We must build up the OCA from the ground up and not impose anything on others but to be a co-worker. We must be willing to give away all in a spirit kenotic love so that every Orthodox jurisdiction here in the USA can realize follow an example of being the OCA mustard seed.

    We must as the OCA not be so presumptive to think that our brand of Orthodoxy is superior to others. Rather we must realize that we are not the savior of Orthodoxy in the USA but part of a greater movement that moves us all to being a truly local Church!

    But that will take leaders who are willing to die, both physically and figuratively for the cause of why we are here and why the Orthodox Faith was planted in this land. The example of Sts. Tikhon and Maximovich, and the numberless only known to God. That means all Orthodox of all backgrounds and experiences must be willing by our example to give our all our life unto Christ our God and to the neighbor and stranger so that they can know what we know.

    That will take leaders with no ego, with no sense of proprietory expectation and hold on to their positions. A willingness to give all to Christ ands for no other reason.

    I ask you, who is that person? Benjamin? Nathaniel? Tikhon? Hopko? Stokoe, Wheeler, Vinogradov, Reeves, Skordinksi, Solodow, Arida, Jillions?

    Tell me, who is that person? Was the Holy Spirit at Pittsburgh and did He seal our First Hierarch?

    And guess what? Our First Hierarch, as a monastic, can do it on $50. Why? Because he will surround himself, if he is able, with people who will do it for the love of Christ and not the love of money. He and they will do it because if money is lacking, they will inspire people to give more.

    Will Benjamin, Nathaniel, Tikhon, Hopko, Stokoe, Wheeler, Vinogradov, Reeves, Skordinksi, Solodow, Arida, or Jillions inspire us?

    Again, I say, Rejoice!

    But all I say is a distant memory born out of hope unless we fight for what we believe in.

  24. Jane Rachel says

    Sex. Money. Power. These three. If our leaders serve these three gods, they cannot serve God. This is why my blog name here is Rachel. I can’t stop crying. Orthodoxy is so beautiful. It’s not that hard to have integrity. Why aren’t our leaders good men? If you have integrity, and you can make a difference in the OCA, it is TIME FOR YOU TO ACT!