Wednesday, July 14, 2010

OCA Strategic Plan for Review

Piety has been blamed for the most pompous positions. Some thoughts for the day...
The "Working Draft of a Strategic Plan for the Orthodox Church in America," is quite a piece of work. For anyone who actually took the time to read the 20 page draft it has some hidden treasures. There is lovely language which seemingly invokes the reader as a quasi participant  of future drafting. There is a large CAUTION in the into in caps, for readers who are warned not to pass this along because they consider it a living document and very much a work in progress "it should not be further copied, cited or distributed without explicit approval of the Strategic Planning Committee".  Of course it is available to whom ever has Internet access and I am free to review the document.

Just following the gag order, a bulk of the introduction sets the tone for the loving embrace of the OCA this mass undertaking to survey need and future agendas. On the section “Structure and Governance of the Church.” it does quite well explain the set up of the institution and organization of the OCA.
The following section "Who We Are"  declares its Creed and concludes with the choke hold (loving embrace). "Within this Eucharistic context the OCA strives to be both hierarchical, with authority rooted in mutual love, and conciliar, with clergy and laity working together for the life of the world and its salvation."  It then makes references to 1794 and missions (omitting and canonical 28 concerns). It completes the picture with establishing without question the autocephalous status of the OCA and connection to Mother Russia. "This conciliatory is part of the heritage the OCA received from its mother, the Russian Orthodox Church and the church council of 1917-1918." of course omitting 'provisional status' which would serve as an honest accounting of the anomaly.  It then quickly shifts gears to "Where we are going" and the finally bullet reads  "Actively cooperating and participating in the formation and establishment of a fully united territorial and autocephalous Orthodox Church in North America, embracing all Orthodox Christians, with one Synod of Bishops".  While recovering from the whip lash there is the invoking Holy Spirit  with additional (new) petitions the formation of single jurisdiction in America. Wink and nod.

As the body of Christ with its shield and its open-door format the reader drinks the elixir and several statements of faith and values are stated. Next sections deal with parish life, Dioceses, deaneries, Diocesan Assembly, Diocesan Council, Diocesan Bishop, the Holy Synod, All-American Council and the Metropolitan Council. Now this is clearly stated, easily understood and very informative. All good without controversy now this is were you need to pay attention.

The next section is where the education is to be had, there is a lesson to be learned here. It deals directly with the office of Metropolitan. It provides this seemingly uncontroversial, very matter of fact statement about procedure: "The Metropolitan, as one of the Diocesan Bishops, is nominated by the delegates of the All-American Council and elected by his peers on the Holy Synod to be the first among equals. As Primate of the Orthodox Church, he is accountable in love to the bishops and they are to him and to one another. He bears a unique responsibility and accountability to maintain the unity in love and obedience with the Synod; as well as unity with the rest of the Orthodox Churches worldwide."

What's odd to this Pharanite? Simply put this sounds a lot like the role of the Ecumenical Patriarch. What makes this more interesting is the OCA's consistent posture that the EP is somehow misguided and disconnected. Canon 34 is referenced, cherry picked, and without reference to future concern about addressing Canon  28 irregularities, the Golden Tomos or the provisional status of the OCA's autocephalous status according to their own charter or its absence in most diptychs.
At the halfway mark it affirms the status of the All-American Council, the Metropolitan Council and then explores quite honestly their OCA's weaknesses and strengths; opportunities and threats. The draft continues at length and then comes to the encouraging the faithful to tell to proclaim their church history. "Tell, and re-tell, the STORY of your parish and of the Orthodox Church in America". Just don't tell the whole story. This reeducating the revisionist history would be told without the necessary footnotes without acknowledging other immigrant churches who also have their place here in this new land. With Yet another bait and switch they ignore the last 20-30 years of corruptions with their reference to conciliar cooperation between clerics and laity "which it inherited from the efforts of the All Russian Council of 1917". 
There is much discussion on outreach to youth and various ministry guidelines. It is then that the real party-line rhetoric begins by the call to action of lay people a 'grassroots' uprising to support the OCA's efforts on all levels. "Establish Personal Working Relations with Other Orthodox Churches: the move to Orthodox unity in North America involves both ‘grass roots’, informal efforts as well as the recent top-level Episcopal Assembly process defined by the Patriarchs." There is much more contained in the last 4-5 pages dealing with contemporary moral issues the education of clergy and reaching out to those with specializations to help facilitate growth.

What is more noteworthy for this forum is the discussion on the "Develop and pursue a pro-active strategy and approach to parish planting". While the OCA wishes to rant about jurisdictional anomalies and canonicity concerned they continue to intentionally plant mission outposts which satellite thriving Greek Orthodox parishes. Rather then seek out the unchurched or under-served they poach membership. More to my point my intentionally overarching other jurisdictions and interweaving OCA parishes amongst GOA parishes there is at least for the moment a suspension within the OCA of conscience for canonical concerns.


Leftmost said...

And as time goes by my dislike for the OCA grows. As I recall their autocephaly is unrecognized by any other jurisdiction save themselves and Moscow.

Lazarus of the Hyacinth said...

If Moscow truly recognized OCA as fully autocephalous today, then why are their MP Churches in the OCA's 'jurisdiction'? Would that not be a canonical conflict?

As for the EA, how is it anything other than a big wind-fest? And what is it's real authority, since it sits over no recognized local Church in America? It's not a Synod, right?

And what was OCA's position there as far as being recognized in its claims by the others attending?

Some other agenda is at work here in terms of OCA's ambitions...