UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Council of the Metropolia Meets in Annual Session at Church Center!
The Council of the Metropolia – Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA – held its annual meeting in the Auxiliary Hall at St. Andrew Metropolia Center in South Bound Brook, New Jersey on 10-11 November 2011 to discuss and evaluate the life of the Church and to set the budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The Metropolitan Council is the highest administrative body overseeing the life of the Church between the regular triennial Sobors. The Metropolitan Council is composed of the bishops, clergy and lay members elected by the Church Sobor and the Presidents of our Church’s three Central Organizations. The Council Meeting was preceded on 9 November by the regular monthly Consistory meeting.
His Eminence Archbishop Antony led the Council Members in a Moleben beseeching God’s protection of our Holy Church, which was followed by a Memorial Service for recently reposed family members of Council Members Dr. Paul Micevych and Helen Greenleaf. His Eminence, on behalf of the convalescing Metropolitan Constantine, opened the annual session and expressed his gratitude to God Almighty that we have the opportunity once again to gather and work together for the glory of God and in service to the Body of Christ – our Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church. He welcomed the Council Members – Bishop Daniel, Protopresbyter Taras Chubenko; V. Rev. Fathers Bazyl Zawierucha, Michael Kochis, Robert Holet, Timothy Tomson, Taras Naumenko and Vasile Sauciur; Eng. Emil Skocypec, Dr. Gayle Woloschak, Dr. Paul Micevych, Helen Boyko-Greenleaf, Michael Kapeluck, Olga Coffey, Michael Kapeluck and Panimatka Linda Oryhon; UOL President Martha Misko, UUOS President Tamara Parubchenko and St. Andrew Society President Protodeacon Dr. Ihor Mahlay. Also present at the meeting were alternate Council members, V. Rev. Jakiw Norton and Subdeacon Richard Jendras.
His Eminence Archbishop Antony offered a special meditation reflecting upon St. John Chrysostom’s commentary on prayer, calling all to a life of prayer – prayer that is offered not only at specific times set aside during the day – but, in addition, prayer offered by the things we do and the way we do them in service to Christ and in His Love. The Archbishop led the Council members into a certainty that God would provide the Light necessary for each step they take in service to Him and in service to fellow man. Fear need not be a factor in our prayerful offering up of our very selves in complete devotion and dedication to the extension of His Kingdom throughout the world.
Following the Archbishop’s address, His Grace Bishop Daniel, the Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the Church provided his reflections on the spiritual welfare of the Eparchy and shared a reflection on the importance of continued efforts of establishment of a monastery of the Church, a place of continued prayers and spiritual growth. Reflecting on the daily parish life in the Church, the bishop stated that “…what we should have, in my view, is a Church where the parish leadership recognises and empowers decision-making at the appropriate levels; where communally we listen to and discern with the people of God what “the Spirit is saying to the Church” and then articulate that as a praying, serving community. We need to experience the simplicity of Faith in God and trust in the people of God to take what may seem to some or many as a spiritual risk. The Church could be enriched as a result through a communal diversity which truly integrates socio-cultural values and insights into a living Faith, together with a discernment of how our parish ministries can promote unity in the Church…”
The first day of the Council focused on report of the President of the Consistory – Archbishop Antony. During his report he called upon the various Directors of the Consistory Offices of Ministry to expand upon their written reports and to answer any questions Council members may have. The Archbishop purposefully appoints members of the Council to head as many of the Offices as possible, so that each member is heavily invested in the work of administering our Church. Our Church is blessed with active ministries in many spheres of work in the following Offices of Ministry: Stewardship, Youth and Young Adult, Religious Education, Christian Charity, Parish and Mission Development, External Affairs and Interchurch Relationships, Liturgical Publications, Family and Adult, Clergy Affairs, Cultural Affairs, Archives and Historical Information, Communications/Public Relations, Financial Affairs and Development. Only a few of the Directors are compensated in any way, but every one of them is so dedicated to their efforts.
His Beatitude Metropolitan Constantine participated at this point of the meeting via telephone call. He thanked the Council members for their continued dedication to God and His Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA. He reminded them of the importance of their office as Council members and expressed his deep regret that he was unable to be with us.
Discussion continued after the Metropolitan’s words and was detailed about the work of the Consistory and the Council found a consensus in support of the proposals coming out of the report, such as the following:
• Deaneries will be encouraged to sponsor transportation via vans or small buses to parish youth who want to participate in our encampments at All Saints Camp.
• A plan will be developed through our mission fund to provide stipends for camp counselors during our encampments.
• A church school teacher certification program will be strongly supported and a study conducted to determine how we can encourage our students to choose attendance at church school and worship over secular and sports activities scheduled for Sunday morning.
• A new Christian Ministry program will be developed to help people right here in the USA through an Appalachian Ministry.
• The Consistory will consider establishing an Office of Liturgical Arts to serve as a resource center for parishes planning renovation or beautification projects.
• Adult Ministry will develop a marriage encounter/retreat program to serve the needs of our faithful.
• A target date for the grand opening of our complete History and Education Complex – Museum, Library, Archive, Conference Center has been set for the year 2015 – as a “Kick-Off” for our Church’s 100th anniversary celebration in 2016.
• Our Church’s ministry will be greatly expanded on the Internet with excellent individuals volunteering to assist in the effort.
• Our cemetery expansion is on schedule and a concentrated effort will be initiated in 2012 to bring its availability to the surrounding areas. Holy Resurrection Mausoleum will also be brought to the attention of all perspective cemetery plot purchasers.
• St. Andrew Book Store and Ecclesiastical Supply will close permanently as a physical store at the end of December because it is simply not a good source of income for our Church’s needs. The parishes will be made aware of the close-out specials which will certainly result from this decision.
• Leadership workshops will be developed and conducted on a regional basis for parish boards and for individuals active in parish and church organizations.
The second day of the Council of the Metropolia on November 11 began with remembrance of our deceased and living military men and women on the occasion of Veteran’s Day. The first report heard during the morning session was from V. Rev. Bazyl Zawierucha, Provost of St. Sophia Theological Seminary. Of particular interest was the fact that there are ten full-time resident students enrolled in the Seminary for this academic year. Four new students from Ukraine arrived in August to begin theological studies. The Seminary continues its effort toward accreditation. The present path is through the New Jersey Department of Education, which is a lengthy and difficult process, but the one which presently is most suitable for our program. Further accreditation could be made much easier after this state licensing is accomplished.
The balance of the morning session and much of the afternoon session of the day was consumed by a serious discussion of our Church’s financial status, needs and concerns. The financial report was presented by Treasurer Emil Skocypec and his assistant, Natalia Honcharenko. It was revealed that we continue to find ourselves in a less than perfect financial condition, with the hope that the improving economy will also improve that condition. The Council recognized with gratitude the Consistory’s efforts to cut costs and reduce staff over the past year, but realized that much more still had to be done. The Council approved the report and closely discussed the budget proposal for 2012, which gave evidence that the Consistory will make additional expense cuts and attempt to recruit more qualified volunteers to assist in the work that needs to be accomplished. Several cuts were made in the budget proposal, but all of the major ministry programs of the Church will proceed as usual and hopefully with much success.
The Consistory expressed gratitude to all the parishes, which have fulfilled their obligations to the Church over the past year and encouraged those falling behind to do everything to rectify the situation. Only ten percent of our parishes responded to the 2010 Sobor request that all parishes try to donate $5,000 to their church to help reduce the financial deficits being experienced. The Council approved the amended budget for the 2012 fiscal year. An important decision made about the two homes on Main Street across from the Memorial Church, which for the third time in ten years and several other times before this, have been covered in flood waters. They will be either razed or sold. It was made clear by insurance adjustors that this flooding would probably be a more frequent occurrence because of changes in flood control in neighboring communities.
The Ukrainian Orthodox League, United Ukrainian Orthodox Sisterhoods, St Andrew Society, All Saints Camp, and the Historical and Educational Complex next presented their organizational reports.
The Senior UOL president Mrs. Martha Misko presented a check to the Consistory to assist in the repairs necessary after the onslaught of Hurricane Irene. The League further dedicated its annual Thanksgiving Tithing Program, during which it asks the faithful of our Church to contribute 10% of what they spent on their Thanksgiving Day meal to a specific purpose each year, also to hurricane relief at the Metropolia Center. The UOL will continue its many educational and spiritual programs as always, including support of our seminarians through the Metropolitan John Scholarship Fund and college students through the Lynn Sawchuk – Sharon Kuzbyt Scholarship Fund.
The United Sisterhoods will also continue its program of assistance to the History and Education Fund, the Church Orphanage Adoption Program and scholarships for college students. The organization is still reeling from the incredible loss of finances through the former treasurer of the organization misappropriation of funds – which is still being investigated by legal authorities in Maryland. All records have been turned over to the State’s Attorney’s office and a lawsuit to recover lost funds is in process. The UUOS is redefining itself and will attempt to draw younger sisterhood members from our parishes into the process.
St. Andrew Society still continues its humanitarian efforts in Ukraine and in its association with the V. Rev. Wolodymyr and Panimatka Halyna Lewytskyj Scholarship Fund now provides scholarships for the seminarians at St. Sophia Seminary. Following the conclusion of the council meeting and dinner, the bishops, members of the Council, and students of St. Sophia Theological Seminary joined together for prayers and a presentation at the Seminary’s Three Holy Hierarchs Chapel. During the presentation, $10,000 in scholarships was awarded from the Fund to the full time students of the Seminary by Pani Luba Lewytska, a daughter of V. Rev. Wolodymyr and Panimatka Halyna Lewytskyj. A Memorial Service for the deceased benefactors was served in the chapel.
Concluding the second day of sessions, the Council established committees to re-evaluate our Church policies for Dispute Resolution and Sexual Misconduct. A Pre-Sobor Commission (2013) was appointed with the goal of creating a new kind of experience for the participants-representatives of our parishes – one which would encourage greater participation from parishes and greater interest in continuing service to God through the Church.
Gratitude was expressed by the Council members to the Consistory, the staff, especially the financial department, and the volunteers for their efforts during the past year, in spite of the budget cuts and difficult economic times. These employees and volunteers, and all the directors of the Offices of Ministry, the Archbishop stated, are people who give far more than they receive to the ministries they head.
Archbishop Antony reminded the Council members about their sacred responsibilities, having been elected to the Council not only by their brothers and sisters in the Faith, but by the Holy Spirit, Who we believe with certainty guides every decision made during our Sobors. He called the members to increased participation in the life of the Church. They all have particular responsibilities as Directors of Offices of Ministry or on various committees or commissions, but he stated that they will be asked to travel to the parishes in their area in behalf of the Council, to ensure that the faithful of our Church fully comprehend the breadth of work and accomplishments of the Church administration. They will be asked to draw the parishes into greater participation in the life and activity of the Church – to bring down the concept of parishes existing as separate individual entities – and developing the understanding the they are part of something much greater – Christ’s Church – our Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which has a definite mission to accomplish and a message to proclaim – all for the Glory of God.