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Diocesan Representative Report March 2008 Meeting
By Lee Kopulos

The clergy of the Diocese met Feb. 11-13 at the Carmelite Retreat Center, Darien, IL.

A Short Discussion on the History of the Ecclesiology of the Church.

Fr. Robert Arida of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Boston presented a discussion on how the Church should be organized (Ecclesiology) given the fact that the OCA needs reform. The original structure of the Holy Orthodox Church in its early phase was on the basis of conciliarity between bishop, clergy and laity. A strong emphasis for the Church was placed in the Eucharist. In Acts 15 we see that the Apostles, elders and whole Church chose men along with Paul and Barnabas to deliver decisions of the whole council to Antioch (Acts 15:22). The Holy Spirit was deemed active in them here, “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…(Acts 15:28)

Later after the Christian Church became the Faith of the Empire (The Byzantine Era) a symphonia between the Church and State is realized. Lay participation is non-existent. The Emperor plays a major role along with the Bishops. The Seven Ecumenical councils are called and help form the Church as it grows and develops.

The OCA is organized similar to the reforms of The Moscow Council of 1917-18. It sought to bring back a more conciliar format for the Church after Peter the Great reduced the church to a department of state. According to Fr. Arida the implementation of conciliarity was not successful here in America. While he does not give specific reasons, certainly the onslaught of communism hindered this approach in Russia and episcopal dominance here in America, even though the OCA Statues are clear and conciliar.

Where are we going? Fr. Arida claims that although the OCA was designed under conciliar structure, it became very quickly dominated by the episcopacy. This has sparked a wave of anti-clericalism, parochialism and individualism. He believes we need to get back to conciliarity. How this is done is another matter and not discussed by him.

The diocesan discussion then concluded the best way to get back to conciliarity and fire people up was witnessed at the All American Council in Toronto where mission was discussed. Soon the Toronto Assembly recognized that the OCA had not been mission minded, yet its visionary statements all reflected this central focus of mission.

Therefore, the Midwest Diocesan Council will work up a resolution for the AAC in Pittsburgh in November to reorganize the OCA diocese along functions that reflect an evangelical vision.

Also, the meeting formulated statements and concerns on the selection and election of metropolitans and bishops including term limits for a metropolitan and procedures for no-confidence and exit from the position.

It will recommend a mandatory retirement age of 75 for both.

This body is recommending a complete diocesan territory review for possible reorganization coupled with a minimum of functions at the national church level since there has been function overlapping. These changes would reduce the amount of money needed at the national level and give more to a diocese.

I will report on the final draft of these resolutions and proposals as they come available. It is sufficient to say here that this diocese is very serious in its quest to correct the terrible administrative misconduct of the recent past and to offer concrete and proper reforms for the OCA to consider redeeming itself and keeping its future for the generations to come.

What we are seeking is a renewal in the Church similar to St. Paul’s exhortation to the Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that we may prove what is good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Evangelism Report

Currently, we are working on two major projects:

1) A new Welcome Brochure for the newly arrived guest. In fact we will produce two types – one for the Orthodox guest and one for the non- Orthodox. These will be in color with photos and in a new folder with Welcome printed on the front.
2) Proposals for the redesign of the Narthex. We have received two bids with one more coming. It looks like a cost of around $10-11,000 including a much needed cabinet for the sacristy. I expect to have a decision for your approval in the next two weeks.

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