Congress ~ Day 2

Usually we spend most of the time at these meetings hearing reports and voting on things. A few years back, we re-wrote the operating procedures of the Archdiocese and we needed to go through this document line by line. In the past we have debated the issue of re-unification with the other Romanian Diocese in North America. But none of that this year. Along with reports we have heard several presentations on topics like Bio-Ethics and Saturday’s topic 125th Anniversary of the Romanian Patriarchate.

Now I like history do I was all over this presentation but I can see where some would get rather bored with the whole thing. The speakers have kept their presentations short to allow for Q & A after. If you have ever been to an academic conference, usually one speaker has 45 minutes to present their topic then another will respond for say 25 or 30 mins then Q & A. So this was a little different. I will post an article once I return home on this topic.

After the presentation we had an update on the re-unification with the other Romanian Diocese. The long and the short of it is we have been talking about this for some 18 years and I think it will be another 18 before anything happens. We are trying to repair a rift that happened in the 1940’s and the problem is many of the people are still alive and remember the nasty stuff that took place. It is often said that history cannot be written for 100 years after the event has happened. That way everyone will be dead, and then the truth can come out. My opinion is, with the on going discussion about Orthodox Unity in America, this discussion needs to be put on the back burner. We have wasted far too much time and resources with people that really do not want to have anything to do with us. There is not enough room, nor do I understand all of the details well enough to write about them here. Suffice it say it is all about trust.

Lunch came after this presentation. It is always good to schedule a controversial topic right before lunch. It is amazing how fast people come to consensus when the smell of lunch is wafting up the stairs into the cathedral where we were meeting.

I will pause here for an explanation. We hold out meetings in the church. We begin with prayer to the Holy Spirit for Guidance, and then the meetings begin. I have often heard that meetings should not take place in the church. However I disagree. Church meetings of this kind are not less a liturgical action then the Divine Liturgy is itself. Some have said if we held this meeting in a hotel ball room or other such venue people would be able to speak their mind. Exactly my point! We need to remember who we are and what it is we are discussing. As Christians we need to approach every issue form this point. Did the discussion get, what’s the phrase, hot, yes. But it was always respectful. These meeting very much belong in the church.

The budget was next on the docket. I was amazed at how little we pay our bishops. We cover all of their expenses but their actual salary is very low. We need to do better. The budget includes a 10% increase over last year and will remain the same for two years. If you divide this by all of the churches in the Archdiocese it works out to an extra $200 a year. I am sorry but we make that at the bar at one of our functions, but I was amazed as person after person approached to microphone to complain about how the Archdiocese was bleeding them dry! Our church budget at St. Michael’s for the entire year is about $65,000 includes $2,000 that we have been assessed by the Archdiocese. So next year our assessment will be $2,200 I am sorry but that is not a big deal. Thanks be to God we are one of the more financially stable parishes and I believe we can afford this. We are also getting much more for our money in return then we ever have before. Budget passed with one abstention (I will never understand people who abstain. Stand up and be counted) off to lunch.

During lunch we listened to a presentation on the Pro Life activities of the Orthodox Church in North America. one thing one needs to keep in mind is that we are a church that does not have a single head that speaks for it. Each Patriarchate is free to interpret things, following the Orthodox way of interpretation. So it is difficult to answer questions like, what is the Orthodox position on Abortion. If you listen to the speaker we had on Friday, abortion is not allowed under an circumstance. However, that is not the current thinking. We leave much of the decision to the situation. Someone asked me on Facebook how the church would approach a certain case. My response was I could not answer because I did not know all the details of the situation. The Orthodox Church has a very intense sense of Spiritual Fathership. Parishioners confess to their priest so the priest get to know the people so we can help in situations like this. One of the benefits of small communities is we really do know all of the parishioners. I know where and how they live and I have been to all of their homes. I hear their confessions, I know their fears and their desires. The term father is used because in a very real sense, the priest is the father of the community. I am supposed to have the same relationship with my parishioners that a father has with their children. (I will leave aside the discussion about bad and absent fathers) So the end of the conversation is these are not easy questions to answer.

After Lunch more reports on all of the activities of the Archdiocese. We break the Archdiocese down into Deaneries and in between Congresses we hold Deanery Assemblies. Each of the Deans gave a brief description of the Assembly and clergy meetings. It is always nice to see what is going on in the Archdiocese. Reports on education, youth, and the Ladies Society rounded out the presentations. We elected a new Archdiocese Council that will lead the Archdiocese for the next two years.

With a few closing words from His Eminence, we closed the 77th Congress of the Archdiocese. I feel that we accomplished much and have a very good idea of what is going on in the life of the Archdiocese. Each parish is different but we deal with the same issues. I will have to digest all of this, and these blogs have helped to do this, and then I will present the information to the parish.

Vespers was held and I once again had the honor of serving with the Bishop. Then Dinner and entertainment. The food has been great and it is all being prepared by the cooks of the Cathedral. I will guess there are 15 of us here and they provide two meals each day served, that is not easy. Thanks to everyone involved for all of your hard work.

Sunday Liturgy and an ordination. More on that next.

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