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Oct 17, Report by Pavel Sorokin on the Archdiocesan Assembly – 2010

Here is the Report by Pavel Sorokin on the Archdiocesan Assembly-2010

THE ARCHDIOCESAN ASSEMBLY

University of Victoria, July 26-30, 2010

The tri-annual Assembly was hosted by All Saints of Alaska Parish in Victoria. The theme was “When did we see You? Orthodox Christian Outreach”. His Beatitude Jonah took part.

Most participants arrived on Monday when the Clergy Synaxis was held. Some stayed in the student dormitories, others in hotels and motels. There were 4 bishops present, 34 clergy, 27 lay delegates, and about 100 observers. Holy Resurrection Sobor was represented by Fr. Michael and Arthur Kostiha (delegates), matushka Elena and Kirill Fourik, Alexander and Galina Ovodov, Olga Kichenko, Maria Grountseva and Pavel Sorokin (observers). Fr. Lawrence Farley was appointed Vice-chairman Clergy and Prof. David Goa – Vice-chairman Lay.

Each day started with a Divine Liturgy at the University chapel, led by Archbishop Lazar on Tuesday, Archbishop Seraphim on Wednesday and Metropolitan Jonah on Thursday. Vespers was at 4:30 pm. On Friday Archbishop Lazar led the Akaphist for Our Lady Theotokos – Joy of Canada.

There were separate events for the youth, including a meeting with the Metropolitan. Every day the Archangel Marketplace operated where vendors offered Orthodox Christian books, icons and various merchandise. The local vocal ensemble Eirene performed for the participants. On Thursday night everyone gathered for the Fellowship Dinner at the Faculty Club, and a good time was had by all.

Tuesday

The first plenary session started with the ruling Archbishop’s address. He informed us that the office of the Chancellor has moved from Edmonton to Ottawa, and the Archdiocese Office is moved from Fairhaven to Ottawa.

Next spoke bishop Irinee (Rochon). He reported on his work so far, including a trip across Canada and two trips to Europe, and thanked the faithful for the love shown to him.

Hegumen Alexander, the Chancellor, reported on the major administrative developments in the Archdiocese. He said that the Pochaev icon tour was a major help financially. He reported on the new property insurance deal and spoke of the need to develop the dean’s office. We have 86 clergy – this number needs structure.

Next were the Secretaries’ Reports. Protodeacon Nazary, the Episcopal Secretary, reported on all the work he’s doing, including organizing Vladyka’s trips, training deacons and lecturing. He stressed that we have to become known to all Orthodox Christians and work to bring them together. We need more international events!

The afternoon Plenary Session included the Treasurer’s report and Stewardship presentation. The participants split into small groups and discussed the timeline of the Archdiocese history, our hopes, strengths and barriers.

Hopes: parishes more like families, true tithing, mission work, more clergy, joint Assemblies with other Orthodox jurisdictions.

Strengths: Converts, immigrants, new leadership, the Orthodox Internet

Barriers: state of finances, insular mentality, apathy, insufficient missionary effort, catechism and outreach

At the evening session Metropolitan Jonah delivered the keynote address. His main points were that we concentrate too much on what we’re good at – liturgy. There are not enough works of mercy, no mission to the poor. Working together on projects will bring our communities together.

His Beatitude spoke of talks between Orthodox jurisdictions in North America and of the Episcopal Assembly where the OCA was not recognized as an autocephalous Church. Our autocephaly is still in progress. We are still canonically dependent on Moscow. Moscow wants Russians to be served in this country. They should put their bishop for North America on our Synod. Do we value Orthodox unity more than our institutional identity? We have three courses of action:

- stay where we are

- redefine relations with Mother Church

- reach unity with Constantinople

We have really applied in the OCA the decisions of the 1918 Moscow Sobor. Conciliarity is mutual interdependency in community.

Wednesday

The morning Plenary Session had Deanery reports. Fr. Lawrence Farley reported on Church growth in British Columbia and announced that he stepped down. Fr. Michael is the new Dean of British Columbia and the Yukon.

Fr. Chad Hadfield, chancellor of St. Vladimir Seminary, proposed creating a Canadian scholarship fund.

Deacon Gregory Scratch reported on St. Tikhon’s Archdiocesan Stewards: STAS has 140 members. 80 people x $30 per month – enough to support archdeacon Nazary. We need a STAS representative in each Parish!

Step 2 – develop the Deaneries

Step 3 – support the seminarians and eventually create a Canadian Seminary

By-law amendments were accepted, archdiocesan Officers appointed and the Archdiocesan Council elected. The lay delegate from our province is deacon Peter Choi of Victoria.

Matthew Francis presented the Youth Committee report: Most important thing – offer opportunity to build friendship in Christ

Fr. Justin Matthews (USA) made a presentation on Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve. He called for establishing FOCUS centers across North America (there are currently seven). “The poor will always be with you” because we surround us with them

The afternoon theme session had a presentation from Fr. David Rucker on OCA missionary work. He told us about the OCA missionary training center – OCMC.org  for the Great Commission. We become His disciples as we participate in making disciples. 1/3 of the world didn’t hear the Good News. We are living in the Pentecost and in the Last Days.

Fr. Michael Oleksa talked about Orthodox Christian culture in Canada: culture is your own beam of light, the ballgame you’re not aware you’re playing, the story into which you were born. The family is a little Church.

Later in the day the OCA Strategic Plan was discussed. Fr. Alexander Garklavs, OCA Chancellor, represented the Strategic Planning Committee. He said that this Plan is a huge step. Each parish should choose the one thing most doable and tackle it and do at least one thing by the next AAC (2011)

Thursday

In the morning session members of the Metropolitan Council and Auditing Committee were elected. More reports were heard.

Department of Christian Service and Humanitarian Aid in OCA stressed that we need to raise awareness of the Resource Handbook, which contains instruction about Lay ministries; Stewardship; Parish development; Community service; Witness and mission; Family life; Youth; and Seniors. 

Fr. Alexander reported on Education: our concern for theological education continues. Archdiocesan Vocational Committee functions well. We are the first diocese to have the “full meal deal”.

Fr. Anthony Estabrooks reported on St. Arseny Theological Institute. An anonymous donor gives $15,000 annually, so it now has an administrative assistant. We have the resources to educate clergy here in Canada. Fr. Lawrence Farley helped train priests locally.

Mother Sophia, editor of the Canadian Orthodox Messenger said the publication is in a crisis. The priests send no articles. We need more contributors!

Alexander Ovodov reported on the Archdiocesan website: it became an official organ on 9-19-2009 with instituted policies. We need a clergy forum. Many of us have blogs. We can make a virtual archdiocese (integrating parish websites). We started creating videoclips. We need translators into French, editors and suggestions.

Archdeacon Nazary reported on Fairhaven Centre. The idea was to get monks from Ukraine, or set up an inter-Orthodox retreat, or an all-Canadian youth camp. Most buildings need lots of repair. We must do something or sell it! An Archdiocesan centre (retreat) would cost $1.5 mln. If we give as we are supposed to give there will be enough.

In the afternoon workshops were held. At the outreach workshop Fr. John Hedges of the Antiochian archdiocese told about the work done St. Brigid centre at St. Athanasius parish in Santa Barbara. Help people rediscover what God meant for them – companionship. The living icons need veneration and restoration!

Fr. Justin Matthews (OCA) then spoke and FOCUS is merely return to basic Christianity. There over 2,000 verses in the Bible about caring for the poor. Find a hole in the social safety net and devise your own strategy. The danger of government welfare – we don’t feel it when we give. Representatives of St. Mary Skobtsova Centre in Victoria spoke about their work.

Another workshop featured a presentation about missionary work in Africa.

Friday

In the final plenary session Resolutions were passed.

1) Delegates will tell all parishes to give at least 10% of revenues to the Archdiocese and submit statements of contribution.

2) Parishes will comment on the Plan and commit on at least one of the top level goals by the spring meeting at the Archdiocesan Council Send feedback to David Grier.

3) Delegates will report to their parishes on the Status of Fairhaven Centre, and the Archdiocesan Council will establish a Planning Committee to resolve the future of the Centre.

4) The Archdiocesan Council will appoint a pre-Assembly Committee as a resource for Organizing Committees

5) Archdiocesan Assemblies will be held every two years instead of three years – East then West – and the duration will be reduced to 3 days. Next Assembly will be in Ottawa in 2012 – in the cathedral to cut expenses

Thanks were given to the hosts and organizers – All Saints of Alaska parish and to Ancientfaithradio.com

Vladyka Seraphim concluded with Psalm 22. He said that During this week, we have been ruminating on the theme “When did we see You?” We have had the eyes of our hearts opened more. We have seen how the Lord is working with us. We comprehend more clearly what is the clear foundation, and direction of our life — in the Love of Christ, serving Him, and caring for all. Therefore, let us simply now open our hearts, and arms to the Saviour more and more. Let us ask Him to heal us, to renew us, to direct us, so that we may be able to reveal Him, in His love, in our living. Let us ask Him to help us support our neighbour. Let us ask him to help us, as St Herman says, to know His will, and to do it.

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