Minutes of the September 2012 Meeting of the Assembly

September 10-12, 2012

Chicago, Illinois

 

First Session

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2012

 

1. Call to Order and Prayer

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America convened in Chicago, Illinois, at the Chicago O’Hare Airport Hilton Hotel, from the 10th to the 12th of September, 2012. The session began with a greeting and prayer service by the Chairman, Archbishop Demetrios.

 

2. Roll Call of Hierarchs in Attendance & Establishment of Quorum

Bishop Basil, the Secretary of the Assembly, proceeded with the roll call of the Hierarchs in attendance. Out of the 66 member bishops of the Assembly, 41 were present, and therefore a quorum was established. Two more members arrived for the afternoon session on September 10th.

 

3. Approval of Agenda & Minutes

Metropolitan Methodios moved, and Metropolitan Alexios seconded, that the agenda for the present meeting be approved. No objection was voiced; the action was approved.  

The minutes from the 2011 meeting of the Assembly were brought up for discussion and approval. Archbishop Antony moved, and Bishop Michael seconded, that the 2011 Minutes be approved. No objection was voiced; the action was approved.  

 

4. Addresses by the Chairman and the second Vice-Chairman

Archbishop Demetrios delivered his address and subsequently invited Archbishop Justinian to address the Assembly. Archbishop Justinian’s address was read in English by his translator, Fr. Andrey. Both addresses are attached as an addendum to the minutes.

 

5. Treasurer’s report

Archbishop Antony, presented the Treasurer’s Report. He mentioned that although the Committee for Financial Affairs, which he chairs, has only two member Hierarchs, himself and Bishop Matthias, the consultants of the committee have been of tremendous assistance. He then thanked Protodeacon Peter Danilchick, the liaison of the Secretariat, and the consultants, Fr. John Troy Mashburn, Fr. Aaron Warwick, Fr. Mark Arey, George Caras, Geofrey Greenleaf, Eric Namee, Bert Moyar, George Matthews, for their hard work.

On November 1, 2011, the Assembly opened the first bank accounts. At that time, $44,300 – jurisdictional contributions made in 2011, were translated into the account. As of September 7, 2012, the Assembly had in its checking account $3,114, and in the savings account, $176,058. The additional funds have been donated by individuals and solicited by the members of the Development Subcommittee.

For the fiscal year 2011, which ended in December, the Assembly had an income of $94,000. This number included the jurisdictional contributions for 2011 and also a generous contribution of $50,000 from an individual who also pledged an additional $25,000 for 2012 and 2013.

Until September 7, 2012, the Assembly received $70,052 additional contributions, and $172 in interest.  Almost all of the jurisdictions have fulfilled their responsibilities for 2012, approximately $44,300.

The total income for this entire period, from November 1, 2011 through September 7, 2012, is $206,650.  The expenses total includes legal expenses for the incorporation of the Assembly, for the establishment of bank accounts, for the 501(c)(3) and purchase of supplies. The major expense of the Assembly for the year has been the meetings of the various Assembly Committees ($24,814 - which covers the cost of travel, lodging and meals, etc.)  The total expenses come to $27,478, leaving the Assembly with $179,172.

At this time, Abp. Antony presented briefly the proposed 2013 Budget, which was adopted at the end of the Assembly meeting.

Archbishop Antony said that an audit will be conducted at the end of the calendar year- which is also the fiscal year for the Assembly. 

After the Treasurer’s Report, Archbishop Demetrios and Archbishop Antony thanked Fr. Mark Arey and Mr. Eric Namee who accepted the responsibility of soliciting the initial funds for the Assembly's endowment. Archbishop Antony mentioned also that the fundraising work will be continued by a subcommittee which will consist of very qualified, dedicated and enthusiastic people. He also said that through the efforts of Eric Namee, an attorney, and Ken Liu of Washington D.C., they were able to accomplish all of the legal expectations, incorporation, employee identification number, and the 501(c)(3) application, which is currently in process.  

Archbishop Antony clarified that while the first two Assembly meetings were covered by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, the third meeting was being covered entirely by the Assembly itself. He also said that donations to the Assembly are tax deductible.

Bishop Antoun moved, and was seconded by Archbishop Joseph, that the Treasurer’s report be accepted as presented. No objection was voiced; the action was approved.

Archbishop Antony clarified that while the financial report was accepted by the members, it is not final; this means that the report was accepted for audit, and only after the audit, the financial report will be final.

 

6. Secretary’s Report

Archbishop Demetrios invited Bishop Basil, the Secretary of the Assembly, to present the Secretary’s Report. Bishop Basil thanked the members of the Secretariat for their diligent work, and then offered a summary of his report. Next, Bishop Maxim, the Coordinator of the Committees, presented the highlights of his activity. 

Archbishop Demetrios pointed out that over 180 people (hierarchs, clergy, laypeople and monastics) are involved in the work of the Assembly, and thanked the Secretariat and all the dedicated people for their faithful service.

 

7. Assembly Bylaws

 Bishop Basil stated that the initial draft of Bylaws was distributed to the Assembly members in March, and then, after receiving comments from some of the hierarchs, the Legal Committee, the Bylaw Committee, as well as Committee for Legal Affairs reviewed the text again and incorporated the changes, where possible.  A second draft of the Bylaws was sent out on July 17th, asking that any further comments be reported to Bishop Andonios by August 20th.

Because Bishop Andonios could not be present at the Assembly meeting, Bishop Basil asked the Chairman that Mr. Eric Namee be permitted to represent Bishop Andonios and to make a presentation on the Bylaws, as Mr. Namee is a member of the Secretariat and the liaison from the Secretariat to the Committee for Legal Affairs, as well as to the Subcommittee for the Bylaws.

Mr. Namee then offered background information on the Bylaws and the Bylaw process. He said that at the 2011 meeting, the Assembly approved going ahead with the incorporation of the organization, and at that time formed a committee that was made up of Bishop Andonios, Archbishop Antony and Bishop Jerome to work on the Bylaws. In addition, Mr. Ken Liu, another attorney whose law firm deals with non-profit organizations and church representation, was brought in to assist the committee. The Committee for Legal Affairs, headed by Bishop Daniel and comprised of 17 lawyers from all the various jurisdictions, also reviewed the Bylaws to help with the process.   

He said that in developing the Bylaws, three principles were considered: the Chambésy Rules of Operation of Episcopal Assemblies, the incorporation laws of Washington, DC, and the uniqueness of the Assembly as an organization. Mr. Namee said that some of the confusion in the Bylaws was due to the inclusion of both a ‘board’ and an ‘executive committee’. Typically an executive committee is a subset of the board, but under Chambésy, the executive committee is the board. 

Archbishop Demetrios said that some members were concerned with the terminology, because, in essence, they saw two executive authorities. As a solution, the Executive Committee of the Assembly would be at the same time the Board, thus eliminating the dual roles. After some discussion on this matter, it was decided that the legal drafters would analyze the terminology to be used in the official Bylaws (either ‘Executive Committee’, or ‘Board of Directors’). 

Mr. Namee reported that the second group of comments received from member hierarchs had to deal with voting, and more exactly with consensus, two thirds, or majority voting for various decisions. He stated that, in accordance with the Chambésy documents, decisions by consensus had been ingrained into the Bylaws.  However, other business matters (e.g. passing budgets, voting on a secretary or a treasurer periodically) should require a typical majority vote, so that day-to-day business will be conducted appropriately.

After an extensive discussion among the Hierarchs on this issue, Archbishop Demetrios concluded that voting should be by consensus for dogmatic, canonical, and other theological matters.  For other matters, decisions could be made by two-thirds majority, “except otherwise stated” – as in some cases, a ‘simple majority’ offers more flexibility for the day-to-day business aspect.

Bishop Basil added that for the determination of quorum for the meeting, the Assembly should use a simple majority, due to the situation with the Hierarchs from Canada and Mexico who asked to be officially separated from the actual region of the Assembly.

Bishop Basil and Mr. Namee mentioned that applying the two-thirds rule to everything may be problematic for Assembly meetings quorum determinations, because of the situation with Canada and Mexico.

Archbishop Demetrios and Bishop Basil proposed keeping the language of consensus and majority by two-thirds, except for special cases (e.g. quorum for a meeting); this would also be in conformity with the Chambésy documents.

Mr. Namee added that at some point the Assembly will have to come up with a definition of ‘consensus’, since there is no definition of this term from a legal perspective. He said that it may work to have the ‘two-thirds’ voting as a general rule, with the exception of when determining a quorum.

Bishop Daniil proposed that amendments to the Articles of Incorporation, amendments to the Bylaws and making decisions about the Bylaws, should also be by consensus.

Archbishop Joseph presented a few points and recommendations to the Assembly in regard to the text of the Bylaws, more specifically in regard to the process of approving the agenda, establishing a quorum at an Assembly and Board meeting, procedures for calling a meeting, instances that should require two thirds majority vote, proposal for representative bishops if the chairman or a vice-chairman is absent.

Archbishop Demetrios said that Abp. Joseph’s proposal is to change the language of the drafted Bylaws. He emphasized that at the end of the meeting the Assembly has to proceed with the approval of the Bylaws, as they are necessary for the IRS and the non-profit status.

He then asked Mr. Namee to come up with a proposal for the final session.

The Chairman formed a subcommittee to look into these questions and come out with a proposal for later on in the meeting. The members of this group were: Metropolitan Joseph, Archbishop Joseph, Archbishop Anthony, Bishop Daniil, Bishop Nicholas and Bishop Ilia.

At this point, the Assembly took a lunch break.

 

[Break]

 

The Session continued at 3:00 pm.

Archbishop Demetrios proposed that a committee be formed at this time to prepare a draft for the final statement of the Assembly which will be issued at the conclusion of the meetings. He then proposed that Metropolitan Methodios, Bishop John, Fr. Josiah Trenham and Deacon John Chryssavgis be part of this committee. All were in agreement with the proposal.

 

8. Presentation by the Committee for Canonical Affairs

The Chairman then invited Metropolitan Methodios, the chair of the Committee for Canonical Affairs, and the Committee facilitator, Fr. Demetrios Tonias, to do their PowerPoint presentation on a preliminary study and an investigation to developing a unified clergy information database. Metropolitan Methodios underlined that the database work was done by Fr. Tonias and Jamil Samara.

After the PowerPoint presentation, there was an extensive discussion on the benefits of such a database, the location, cost and accessibility to it, what kind of information it will include, etc.

Since there were arguments pro and against developing an extensive database at this time, Bishop Basil suggested that, for practical use, the Assembly should start with creating a basic list of clergy, to be added to the existing databases of bishops, monastics and parishes, which will be posted on the Assembly website.

Metropolitan Methodios said that the Committee would come back with specific proposals as to how the names of all the canonical priests, deacons and bishops are listed and what information exactly needs to be listed in the database. He added that any additional input from the member bishops should be addressed directly to the committee so that proper consideration will be given, and a new proposal will be drafted. The committee will also present an estimated cost for the database.

The Chairman then thanked Fr. Tonias for his presentation and for all his work.

Bishop Basil said that the Secretariat can create the initial list of canonical clergy, and this will include the priest's name, his jurisdiction and diocese, the name of the parish and city where he is. Everyone was in agreement with this proposal and, for the time being, the Secretariat will go ahead with this task.

The first session concluded with some housekeeping matters and preparation for the next day’s Divine Services. Archbishop Demetrios thanked everyone for their participation, ideas, and positive exchanges, for the work for Orthodoxy. 

 

Second Session

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2012

 

9. Presentation by the Committee for Canonical Regional Planning

After the Divine Liturgy and the Memorial Service for 9/11, the Assembly convened in the hall of Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, in Chicago.

The Chairman invited Archbishop Nicolae to present his report on the progress of the work of the Committee for Canonical Regional Planning, which he chairs.

After the presentation, the members were divided in small groups, and in this manner everyone had a chance to discuss the findings of the Committee, and make further recommendations.

After the work-group session, the meeting was continued at the Hotel.

Archbishop Nicolae thanked all the members for their cooperation, and also the facilitators and the members of the Secretariat for their assistance.  He then invited the facilitators to present the conclusions of their group discussions.

After the reports, Archbishop Nicolae and Protodeacon Peter summarized the main points and proposed some ideas for future work of the committee.

It was proposed that each jurisdiction should also meet internally and discuss and determine their own answers to the questions presented by the Committee.

Improving regional cooperation among the bishops of various areas was also an important matter discussed by most of the groups. Also, the hierarchs talked about strengthening the clergy brotherhoods and enhancing mutual liturgical celebrations.

Following the reports, there was discussion on various matters, including the make-up of parishes in the United States and their future (e.g. converts to the Orthodox Church and the missionary aspect of the Church; parishes sometimes seeing themselves as independent entities instead of as part of their diocese and the Church at large), the need for greater communication and cooperation among member-bishops of the Assembly, etc.

Archbishop Demetrios said that the members of the Assembly should communicate with their Mother-Churches on a regular basis and get their input on the developments within the Assembly.

 

Third Session

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2012

 

The third session started at 9:30 am, with prayer by Archbishop Demetrios.

 

10. Procedure for Statements to be Issued in the Name of the Assembly

Bishop Basil brought up for discussion the proposal for Statements to be Issued in the Name of the Assembly, which addresses the procedure to be followed when the Assembly issues various statements, and especially emergency statements. No concerns were raised and the proposal was accepted.

Bishop Basil mentioned that the Assembly members can provide him with a number of email addresses where he can send Assembly-related information, in this way making sure that the information gets to them on time, wherever they may be. He added that in instances when the Assembly has to issue an emergency statement, the members will have 72 hours to comment on the proposed draft statement, before it is to be published.

Bishop Nicholas suggested that in order to make sure that all the hierarchs receive these urgent communications, the Secretariat should ask everyone to confirm receiving the respective emails.

 

11. Assembly By-laws (continued)

Archbishop Demetrios invited then Mr. Namee to present the results of the work of the small committee that was formed in the first day of the Assembly. This committee was to look into issues raised by Archbishop Joseph and others, and make the appropriate changes to the drafted By-laws.

Mr. Namee mentioned that one of the things the committee did was making sure the Executive Committee and the Board were the same thing (the Assembly already agreed on this change), and that this was consistent throughout the document.

Most of the other changes were in regard to consensus and two-thirds majority voting (e.g. the Bylaws can be amended by a two-thirds vote). There were also a few additions to some articles of the Bylaws in order to convey the ideas of the specific texts more clearly.

Metropolitan Methodios made a motion that the Bylaws be accepted by the Assembly. Metropolitan Savas seconded. No objection was voiced; the action was approved.  

Archbishop Demetrios thanked everyone again, and especially Mr. Namee – who put a lot of precious time into working for the good of the Assembly.

 

12. Delegation of Legal and Financial Authority Guidelines

Archbishop Demetrios introduced the proposed Delegation of Legal and Financial Authority Guidelines, which were developed jointly by the Committees for Financial Affairs and for Legal Affairs.

Archbishop Antony and Bishop Daniel moved that the document, with the only change being the replacing of ‘Board of Directors’ with ‘Executive Committee’, be adopted by the Assembly. All were in agreement; the action was approved.    

 

13. Adoption of Assembly Budget

Next, Archbishop Demetrios invited Archbishop Antony to present the proposed Assembly Budget for 2013.

Archbishop Antony mentioned that that the policy of the Financial Affairs Committee is that the unused funds by committees will not carry over from year to year.  The 2013 Budget was based mainly on the responses the Treasurer received from the various committees in 2012, and from some for 2013. The Committee for Financial Affairs also increased the budgets for individual committees to $5,000.  The anticipated revenue for 2013 is $500,000. Archbishop Antony said that the total expenditures for 2013 are expected to be $353,000, which would leave the Assembly with a balance of $147,000.

After discussion the motion was approved.

Archbishop Demetrios then moved to the motions-for-action presented by the Committee for Youth. The Assembly approved the Committee’s request to have the Eastern Orthodox Committee on Scouting be a part of the Committee’s work.

Metropolitan Savas moved, and Archbishop Antony seconded, that the Assembly also endorses the Youth Leaders Conference organized by the Committee for Youth. The Committee received the endorsement of the Assembly for this Conference.

Bishop Basil mentioned that the name of the Committee for Clergy Affairs has been changed to ‘Committee for Clergy Matters.’             

 

14. Joint Statement from the Assembly and Conclusion of the Meeting

Archbishop Demetrios expressed his thanks to the committee that drafted the Joint Statement.  After discussion, a final draft of this statement was approved by the Assembly.

Bishop Basil made a motion to adjourn and the meeting concluded with a prayer of thanksgiving by Archbishop Demetrios.

 

Bishops in attendance: 


Archbishop Demetrios, Chairman

Archbishop Justinian, 2nd Vice -Chairman

Archbishop Antony, Treasurer

Bishop Basil, Secretary

Metropolitan Iakovos

Metropolitan Methodios

Metropolitan Athenagoras

Metropolitan Isaiah

Metropolitan Alexios

Metropolitan Nicholas

Metropolitan Savas

Bishop Ilia

Bishop Daniel

Bishop Sevastianos

Bishop Pankratij

Archbishop Joseph

Bishop Antoun

Bishop Thomas

Bishop Alexander 

Bishop John

Bishop Anthony

Bishop Nicholas

Metropolitan Hilarion

Archbishop Kyrill

Archbishop Gabriel

Bishop Peter

Bishop George

Bishop Longin

Bishop Mitrophan 

Bishop Maxim

Archbishop Nicolae

Bishop Ioan Casian

Metropolitan Joseph

Bishop Daniil

Archbishop Nathaniel

Archbishop Nikon

Archbishop Tikhon

Archbishop Benjamin

Bishop Melchisedek

Bishop Michael

Bishop Alexander

Bishop Irineu

Bishop Mark