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All American Council
by Anthea Lukanshonak

During the week of July 25th, 1999, the highest legislative and administrative authority of the Orthodox Church in America met, including His Beatitude Our Metropolitan THEODOSIUS, the Holy synod of Hierarchs, the Clergy, representatives of every monastic community and theological school, and lay delegates from every parish throughout our country. Participants represented the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), and the Orthodox church in Canada and Mexico. Our responsibility as the All-American Council was to meet to discern God's will, to work together for His Church, to worship as one, and to discuss and take action on issues that will bring His Church forward, fulfilling His will, into the 21st Century.

The theme of the 12th All-American Council was "on behalf of all and for all" - words spoken by every Orthodox priest during the Divine Liturgy - as we the faithful pray for the Holy Spirit to descend on the Holy Gifts. These words call us to proclaim our Faith, to live God's will, and to remind us that everything we are called to do is for all of God's people … "on behalf of all and for all."

Father Andrew and I attended liturgy and vesper services, the seven plenary sessions, guest speaker presentations (Bishop Kallistos of Diokletia - "It is Time for the Lord to Act: Christ's Self-Offering and Our Own" and Dr. Yaroslav Pelikan - "Praying the Prepositions"), open forums, and, the parish development workshops ("Accomplishing Change" and "Stewardship - It Ain't Just Money".)

The following is a description of issues discussed and decisions rendered during the 12th All-American Council. In addition, my binder containing all minutes, reports, and proposals, is submitted to the Church Council for the further edification and nurturing of the parish of St. Luke.

Parish Membership. Article X: Sec.5: Parishioners Parishioners are those who, by virtue of their Baptism and Chrismation, are members of the Body of Christ and strive to live in accordance with their high calling (Eph.4:1) as Orthodox Christians. No one can be a parishioner of the parish if he openly betrays the teaching of the Orthodox Church or if he leads a life or acts in a manner condemned by the Holy Canons as incompatible with the name of Orthodox Christian.

A "voting member" of the parish is a parishioner [as defined in Article X, Section 5(a)] at least eighteen years of age, who partakes of the Sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion in his home parish at least once a year; has belonged to the parish for a period as may be fixed by the parish; and regularly fulfills such financial obligations as may be established by the All-American councils, Diocesan Assemblies, and parish. Implications of the above amended/passed statute: The word "member" was removed from the statute to be consistent with other statute language. The amendment better defines the terms "parishioner" and "voting member". A parish must now count all "parishioners" and base their minimum financial support to the Church on the above stated definition. Separately, a parish may now define who is eligible to vote at Parish Meetings, and this definition does not affect or have a bearing on the census figures submitted to the Diocese and Orthodox Church in America by the parish.

Minimum Financial Support Article X: The Parish Sec 6 Financial Support

Each year the parish shall remit to the Diocesan Treasurer its minimum financial support to the Diocese and to the Orthodox Church in America. This minimum financial support shall be determined by the number of parishioners of the parish [as defined in Article X, Section 5(a)] who are eighteen years of age and over. The parish is also responsible for submitting annually, by January 31st a census containing the names (first and last) and addresses of such parishioners to the Diocesan Bishop. Additions and/or deletions shall be reported as they occur.

Implications of the above amended/passed statute: The word "minimum" was added to the statute. Based on the amendment the basis for determining a parish's financial obligation is no longer linked to a parish's "voting membership" but rather more accurately reflects the counting of "parishioners" as defined above. Fair-share System of Financial Support. Please refer to the report title "Our Mission and Vision - Building a Commitment for the 21st Century." (binder)

This report deals with the current per capita system of financial support for the Central Church Administration and the need to move to a fair-share system of financial support. The report lists the steps the Orthodox Church in America will implement to meet the "more stewardly" approach of supporting the Orthodox Church in America starting in 2000 , through the year 2008.

Pension. Amendments were passed. Amendments were made to the statues reflecting language and dates. All parishes in the OCA are now required to participate in the pension plan. Please refer to the Pension Plan Report. (binder)

Diocesan Boundaries and Structures. A presentation was made by the Committee regarding the existing diocesan structure of the Church and its relation to population and geography. The intent of the committee was to investigate "the demographics and geographic boundaries of the diocese with the intent to realign the existing dioceses as needed to assure more efficient functioning" as mandated by the 11th All-American Council. The committee suggested several recommendations. No action was taken at this time and the study requires further review. Any decisions to be made will be made by the Holy Synod.

Church-wide Initiative.Our task: If the OCA could spend $50,000 in each of the next three years ($150,000 total) to enhance the mission of the Orthodox Church in America in its dioceses and parishes, how would you recommend this money be spent? The Council voted upon five initiatives, and the Seminarian Summer Internship Program received the majority vote. The close second went to the Parish Education Program. Due to the generosity of parishes, individuals, and church organizations attending the Council, both initiatives will be implemented. Over $300,000 was pledged during the session.

Elections. Elections were held for the Metropolitan Council, Pension Board, and auditors. Please refer to the minutes for the results of the election.

Recommendation: After attending the parish workshop, "Stewardship - It Ain't Just Money", it is my recommendation that the church council look into having Father Joseph Fester present his two-day workshop to the parish. The seminar relates to the goals of our parish as we look to grow is size and spirituality, and to expand our church building.

It was an honor to participate in the All-American Council. I would like to thank my parish for allowing me to represent them and for the privilege of doing God's work "on behalf of all and for all."

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