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THE APPELATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, SECOND DISTRICT
 
JUSTICE HUTCHINSON delivered the judgment of the court.
Justice Jorgensen concurred in the judgment.
Justice Spence dissented in the judgment.
RULE 23 ORDER
~ I Held: The trial court erred when it granted defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings because the pleadings raised a genuine issue of material fact regarding the autonomy of the subject church. Because the nature of the dispute was a matter of contract law and did not implicate church polity, the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine did not apply. Moreover, we determined that the Transitional Regulations document expired and was no longer in force when this dispute arose. For the reasons that follow, we reverse.
 
Special note
 
According to plaintiffs, the Assembly of the Metropolitanante Diocese never approved a common constitution.
 
Court found that

 
“…unilateral actions taken by the Bishop and documents executed by the Bishop served to further confuse the relationship between the parties.”
 
“Moreover, the Bishop's remaining affirmative defenses are unpersuasive. “
 
“Plaintiffs are representatives of the ultimate authority of the Metropolitanante Diocese pursuant to its constitution.”
 
“In the present matter, however, plaintiffs filed suit only after the Belgrade Church circulated a letter announcing the reorganization of the Metropolitanante  Diocese as Part of the hierarchy of the Belgrade Church in June of 2009 and subsequently, on July 11, 2009, publically stated that a reorganization of the Metropolitanante Diocese had occurred and that there was no longer a division between the Metropolitanante Diocese and the Belgrade Church.”
 
“We determine that judgment on the pleading was inappropriate in this matter because plaintiffs' complaint raised a question of law, specifically, whether the Transitional Regulations document entered in to by the parties had expired or a new constitution had ever been entered into by the Assembly pursuant to the Transitional Regulations document. If the Transitional Regulations document expired without the adoption of a joint constitution, the Metropolitanante Diocese remained autonomous from the Belgrade church.”
 
“Moreover, we determine that the Transitional Regulations document entered into by the parties expired in 1995 pursuant to its terms, after 3 years where no common constitution was jointly adopted. Thus, the governing rules of the two, separate churches reverted back to the documents previously set forth.”
 
“In the present matter, the terms of the Transitional Regulations document, when read as a whole, are clear. In 1992, the Metropolitanante Diocese and the Belgrade Church contemplated uniting. Before the churches officially agreed to unite, they entered into the Transitional Regulations document as a way to govern the churches while each party worked out details of a potential merger. The Transitional Regulations document states clearly that, unless a common constitution is reached by the governing bodies of each church, the terms of the agreement will expire after 3 years' time. The document even provides the specific time and place, the "(meeting of the Holy Assembly of Bishops in May of 1995)" where it will expire if no common constitution has been adopted Here, in 1995 (3 years later), no common constitution had been jointly adopted and the churches remained separate, having never formally unified. It is of no matter that years after the expiration of the Transitional Regulations document, the Bishop executed documents and publically presented the Belgrade Church as unified with the Metropolitanante Diocese. The terms of the Transitional Regulations document were no longer in effect and, therefore, the Metropolitanante Diocese was
not governed by that document.”
 
“For the reasons stated, the judgment of the circuit court of Lake County is reversed.”

March 2012 Unity Update

Orthodox unity in North America is progressing at a feverish pace.
Clearly the Assembly of Bishops are marching in unison to fulfill this dream. Clearly “OUR” Bishops are in support and are working to bring this to reality. They are all committee members of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America.

Follow the text on this page to find the links that should be review on this subject.


Below is a brief excerpt from the complete year in review. 
Note the “iv)”  below.
They already have a plan how North America will be divided and who will be the Bishop/Metropolitan/etc. over the new planned Diocese, per His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah in the link below.

At the end of the day, we SERBS will be assimilated into the “Great American Melting Pot”.  When our churches cease to report to the “Mother Church” and the Bishops are taking their marching orders from the “World Patriarch”. Will the “Bishop” that our priest reports to even know what a “Slava” is?  How will we Serbs and our children learn about Sv Sava?  The Sunday Schools according to the “Constitution” are not under the authority of the Church School Board but rather report through the Parish Priest and are under the direct control of the Diocesan Education Committee with the Bishop as the head. As such under the new structure, the Diocesan Education Committee will not even be headed by a Serbian Bishop. This will be a made in America, education. One only needs to look to the American education system to see how much our children are thought about anything that is NOT American. If in doubt, look at how they have negated  Nikola Tesla’s work, to the point that they give credit to Edison for his work and place in history.

We urge you to take the time to review the links below and form your own opinion where all this is headed.


Not everyone feels that this is the best thing to do, Catholicos Patriarch of Georgia Ilia the Second expressed his concern to Patriarch, Bartlomeos I directly in their meeting.  The following is taken from “Ilia the Second - It’s Very Dangerous to Summon World Orthodox Meeting” Patriarch said that world patriarch's proposal is that all the temples without a mother church must belong to the world patriarch.

"We told him that the temple must belong to the mother church of the country if the congregation wishes, and if the congregation want this temple to belong to the world Patriarch, then mother church will not be against this", Ilia the Second said, adding that a lot of issues are to be solved and it's very dangerous to summon an orthodox meeting. He voiced hope that all the issues will be solved, but he also said it would take time.

See the full article:  http://www.geotimes.ge/index.php?m=home&newsid=26083 and http://www.ocl.org/node/245


Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America: Year in Review
http://www.assemblyofbishops.org/news/releases/feb2012yearinreview

The Assembly is comprised of all the active, canonical Orthodox bishops of North and Central America of every jurisdiction. Its purpose is “to preserve and contribute to the unity of the Orthodox Church by helping to further her spiritual, theological, ecclesiological, canonical, educational, missionary and philanthropic aims.
” To accomplish this, the Assembly has as its goals:
i) the promotion and accomplishment of Church unity in North and Central America;
ii) the strengthening of the common pastoral ministry to all the Orthodox faithful of this region; and
iii) a common witness by the Church to all those outside her.
In addition, the Assembly has as an express goal:
iv) the organization of the Church in North and Central America in accordance with the ecclesiological and the canonical tradition of the Orthodox Church.



His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah explains the vision of the Bishops.
In March 2012, His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah spoke at Holy Cross Orthodox Church in Linthicum, MD on the topic of Orthodox unity in America.
http://www.ocl.org/node/340
The key message starts @ 10 Minute mark

His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah clearly explains the process already in progress. One Church with one voice…..joint stewardship to create a united Orthodox Church. He even goes to explain  that these would be Archdiocese that would be responsible for all the church which would eventually report to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.


The study just released the Assembly of Canonical Bishops
http://assemblyofbishops.org/files/news/FiveFacts.pdf

The Serbian Churches account for 68,000 of the Orthodox in United States. That’s 8.5%.
In the United States nationwide and for all jurisdictions of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops combined, the total number of persons (including children) participating in the life of the Orthodox Church is 797,600. The majority of US Orthodox parishes and most American Orthodox jurisdictions can be described as predominantly “English speaking.”
 
Strength of Ethnic Identity
49% - of all US Orthodox parishes agreed with the statement “Our parish has a strong ethnic heritage that we are trying to preserve.”
Strength of Ethnic Identity in the Parishes of Various Orthodox Jurisdictions: - 82 % for Serbian Churches
Index of Strength of Ethnic Culture: from 0 (no ethnic culture) to 10 (very strong ethnic culture) Serbs were 6.7 only the Romanians had a higher factor.
Assimilation into the great American melting pot. How will the Serbian maintain their Serbian identity in the face of this demographic study?

Orthodox Diaspora 2011 Update

The OOSCC has been keeping you informed
of a SIGNIFICANT development in the
Orthodox Diaspora since we started our website.

To get a true understanding, we urge our readers to read the 1st series of article from October 2009. The documents can be found on this website,HERE.

Since then a number of developments have occurred.  There have been 2 Episcopal Assemblies of Canonical Bishops held in the USA, and similar Assemblies have been held in the designated regions.  For our brothers and sisters in Canada, a request has been approved for the formation of the  Assembly of Canonical Bishops of Canada.  They too have also convened and are progressing on the same path.  The Canonical Bishops have formed a number committee to prepare for the eventual unification.

The most important development however is in the USA.  The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America has created a legal entity.

The Serbian Bishops in North America however have not been sharing the developments with the parishioners of the Serbian Orthodox Churches.  Bishop Longin was specifically asked about this.  His response was that he was not concerned  with this and that we parishioners need not fear anything from this.  He indicated that he was not in support of this. 

Bishop Longin has clearly contradicted these statements in an interview posted to the website of the Assembly of Canonical Bishops of North and Central America on October 18, 2011. Read his statement HERE.

Every Orthodox Christian, especial those that belong to the Diaspora Churches needs to read and get familiar with what is coming. A lot of information is  available on the website www.assemblyofbishops.org.  We urge our readers to read about it and share this information with our Orthodox brothers and sisters. Church Boards need to be aquainted with these developments and commence preparation for this new reality that is coming, SOONER rather than not in my time.  Ask your priest and your church executives to follow up with your Bishops.

Do not sit by in the comfort that nothing will happen. Take a good look at what happened with the Constitution issue within the Serbian Orthodox Church and let it be a lesson. Note that the  Bishops are acting and forging forward without the input of their parishioners.

 

 

March 2011 Lawsuit Update

News Flash - Update

Dated: March 8, 2011

Released by:   The Committee for Safeguarding the Free Serbian Churches

Due to the enormous interest in the outcome of the New Gracanica Metropolitanate lawsuit filed in the Circuit Court of the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Lake County, Illinois, the plaintiffs and the members of the many Serbian Orthodox Churches in the USA and Canada hereby wish to briefly summarize what led to the filing of the action and where the whole matter stands.

From the historical perspective, the New Gracanica Metropolitanate existed  since 1977, at first under a different name, and is still in existence, however, its property, both, real and personal has been illegally taken, and that led to the filing of the lawsuit against Bishop Longin, who has taken possession of the property belonging to the New Gracanica Metropolitanate.

The Transitional Regulations agreed on and signed by all of the respective parties in 1992, clearly specify that the integration of the New Gracanica Metropolitanate in the other four dioceses can only occur when its members at a properly called Sabor (Assembly) accept the new constitution, which was compiled in 1998, and edited on many occasions ever since.  The Members of the New Gracanica Metropolitanate have decisively turned down the said new constitution in December of 1999, and have never since then voted to accept it.  On that occasion the Sabor of December 1999, has unanimously revived the old 1986, constitution, which to this very date is in affect with its members.

Bishop Longin has knowingly violated the Transitional Regulations document by ignoring the condition by which the integration into the other four diocese is to occur, and the taking of the property belonging to New Gracanica is a further violation of the existing laws of the Stated of Illinois.  The members of the New Gracanica Metropolitanate through the plaintiffs are seeking the full restitution of the property belonging to it, and the injunctions to be issued by the Court whereby it is affording its protection.  This whole matter involves the violation of the contractual agreement and the laws of the State of Illinois under which the New Gracanica Metropolitanate has been registered.

ONE GREAT VICTORY has been achieved when the Federal Court remanded  the matter back to the Circuit Court after the Defendant moved the case  to the Federal Court stating that the Circuit Court had no jurisdiction to hear religious matters.  The Federal Court disagreed stating that this is not a religious matter, but one that involves property rights and as such falls under the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court. 

The Circuit court provided the Defendant an opportunity to file the answer to the original Complaint filed back in July 2010.  It was the Order of the Court that the Answer be filed by March 3, 2011, otherwise a Default Judgment may be issued.

Current status: As of March 8th, 2011
The Defendant failed to file the Answer.  As a result the Plaintiff has now filed a motion to request a Default Judgment be issued in the Complaint filed with the court.  This will go before the Judge on March 15, 2011.

This is a very important case on many grounds.  Many people don’t know that the new constitution, which was illegally and immorally imposed on the Serbian Orthodox faithful HAS MADE THE DIOCESES OF THE NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA AUTONOMOUS, WHICH MEANS THAT THEY ARE ON THEIR WAY TO BE DETACHED FROM THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH.

Yes, they are on the way to be under the Ecumenical Patriarch and no longer under the Serbian Orthodox Church in Belgrade.  THAT IS WHY THE PRIESTS under the direction of THE BISHOPS HAVE BECOME SO DICTATORIAL, and are trying to MANAGEMENT THE PROPERTIES BELONGING TO THE SERBIAN PARISHES IN CANADA AND USA. 

Read the other links in this website to see how this is coming together. The first Great Meeting of the All Orthodox Bishops of North America has already occurred.  Ask yourself, why your priest or Bishop has not informed you of the participation of the Serbian Bishops in this meeting.  What was discussed?  Have they agreed to take steps toward the split from the Mother Churches?  There are a lot of unanswered questions.  Is this the same process that they are following as was followed with this so called “Unification”?  Keep the laity in the dark until it is too late?

DO NOT ALLOW YOUR MEMBERSHIP TO SLIDE, ENCOURAGE THE PARTICIPATION IN THE PRESERVATION OF OUR SERBIAN ORTHODOXY AND SVETOSAVLJE.  DO NOT DELAY, TOMORROW MAY BE TOO LATE WHEN YOUR PROPERTY IS SOLD BECAUSE YOUR MEMBERS LEFT IN DIGUST.

JOIN THE COMMITTEE FOR SAFEGUARDING THE FREE SERBIAN CHURCHES, AND DO YOUR PART TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS PASSED ON TO YOU, AND PASS THEM ON SO THAT THE SERBDOM AND SVETOSAVLJE CAN LIVE THE LIFE WE HAVE BEEN ACCUSTOMED TO.

DON’T BE SILENT.  IF YOU AGREE, JOIN US.  PLEASE HELP US FINANCIALLY, SO THAT WE CAN CONTINUE TO FIGHT THE INJUSTICE!     

Outcome of Step one of the Lawsuit filed

Outcome of Step one of the Lawsuit filed

Bishop Longin did not file a response
to the initial lawsuit filed
THE MEMBERS OF THE
NEW GRACANICA METROPOLITANATE


Instead he attempted to have it blocked by the federal court. 
A ruling of Judge Zagel was issued on December 6, 2010. 

Judge Zagel granted the request of
THE MEMBERS OF THE  NEW GRACANICA METROPOLITANATE

Download and read the actual Court Document HERE


What does this mean?


Bishop Longin attempt to use the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States constitution to claim that the courts do not have jurisdiction in a religious matter has failed.

In his attempt,
“On July 19, 2009,…Bishop Longin Kroc, the Bishop of Metropolitanate state publically that a reorganization of the Metropolitanate has occurred and that there was no longer a division between the Metropolitanate and the Belgrade Church. “

Judge Zagel rejected this assertion on the basis that:

Neither the 1986 constitution nor the Metropolitanate Assembly authorized such reorganization.

As a result Judge Zagel ruled that:
"the district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws or treaties of the United States."

This means that this is a civil matter and as such rejected Bishop Longin’s attempted to impose a new constitution by claiming that there was no longer a division.

The Serbian Orthodox Metropolitanate of New Gracanica-Diocese of the United States of America and Canada (“Metropolitanate”’) is valid in accordance with the 1986 Constitution.

The bottom line – the” new” Constitution Serbian Orthodox Church of the North and South America is NOT binding on the Metropolitanate as it was not adopted by a general assembly “SABOR” of the Metropolitanate. 

There will be major fallout of this. 
The reorganization has no legal basis until such time as The Serbian Orthodox Metropolitanate of New Gracanica-Diocese of the United States of America and Canada approve it by a vote at a general assembly “SABOR”

THE MEMBERS OF THE  NEW GRACANICA METROPOLITANATE, now have the option of pursuing to take control of the METROPOLITANATE and to continue on as an independent religious organization or to try to resolve the dispute through a new round of negotiations.

The Members have clearly state that the “new” Constitution as written is NOT acceptable and as such MUST be revised to take into account the concerns raised. 

According to the ruling the Metropolitanate Assembly MUST approve any changes.

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