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December 12, 2009 Meeting

Assembly of Churches
Cleveland, Ohio 
December 12, 2009 

Meeting commenced with a joint prayer. 

This meeting was called by the Committee to discuss developments to date and to seek clarification of the Mandate and refresh committee membership.  

The meeting was called on short notice due to development and the need to meet before the winter sets in. Even with some terrible driving conditions, turnout was good. Committee chair reported that he has been approached by new churches, some have joined us others were not able to join us in person because they could not make it on such short notice. Of the new Churches, they were unaware of the August meeting, now that they have become aware they are happy to here and are in agreement with the Mandate. 

The committee presented the various developments to date which include the following: Cleveland members met with Bishop Dr Mitrofan, representing the Cleveland 

Church Committee – met in September in Niagara Falls 

Website has been launch for communication purposes Information has been posted on the website, site getting a lot of hits, word is getting out 

Committee met with Bishop Longin, concerns were discussed and he was informed that the committee represents the moderates, who are willing to work to reach a negotiated resolution to the Constitutional problem. 

Contact made with a number of new Churches that were previously not aware of our efforts, and have agreed to joint us. 

Bishop Longin, contacted committee to advise that the Central Counsel is meeting and that they will be discussing our concerns & that he will get back to us. 

Prior to 12/12 Assembly meeting, the committee met again to review further developments, prepare for the meeting. Mandate reviewed and confirmed by committee. Agreed to review the Mandate and supplement the committee membership at the end of the 12/12 meeting. 

It was clear form the outset that the delegates do not accept the “Constitution” since the New Gracanica Metropolitanate, in accordance with the transitional rules, did not APPROVE it. 

Affidavits- Need for these was explained in more detail & draft will be added to website. It was urged that these get prepared by anyone with the specific knowledge of events to support the fact that the New Gracanica Metropolitanate did not APPROVE the “Constitution”. 

During the 12/12 meeting all churches were provided an opportunity to present their state of affairs of in their local Church. The following summarises the points raised: 

New priest appointed, he is exerting new pressures on Church members & it is coming from the Bishop 

Bishop has dictated that the membership fee be increased to $365/year 

Demands made in accordance with “Constitution” for submission of slate of candidates for pre-approval prior to election, fees to be submitted on monthly basis, including Priest pension funds 

Financial statements to be submitted allow access for a review to be conducted by diocese of financial affairs

Pressured to impose stewardship 

Not willing to accept corporate structure 

Continued closure of Niagara Church, (word came out that Diocese will be changed and service to be restored by Dec 20th/09), Bishop working to split congregation by forming a 3rd Church where unity had been achieved by the 2 Churches 

Threat to withdraw priest unless, Church comply and accept the new Bishop 

Reports about churches that have agreed to go under new Bishop, have suffered from territorial realignment with service to be provided by a new Parish priest. 

One church reported that after months of no service, they have released the priests for none-service & have found a new priest, now operating outside of control of local Bishop 

Church meeting having difficulty electing Church Board, only managed to elect President when meeting fell apart, somehow slate was filled, but list that came back approved from Bishop was not the same 

Church members do not want to fight, made mistake & invited Bishop & were then lectured by Bishop. One Church has been dissolved by the Bishop, they were initially forbidden from attending, now they are here. 

Some churches have newly elected Church Boards, and as a result they did not send delegates this time on such short notice, but members attended & stated that there are problems in their Church. 

On question of what should the Churches do in response to the letters from the local Bishop? Response – do nothing. Do not send in slate of candidates. Continue, as you have to date. If you hold election, send to Bishop Longin. Do not send in funds, not even for pension fund. Option – give your priest the pension funds, so he can fund the plan or deposit the funds into a private pension fund for the priest. 

Noticeable pressure was raised that we should not negotiate with the Bishops. 

Mandate was read at the start of the meeting & was revisited at the end of the meeting. It was confirmed with out changes, at this time. Request to be made to meet with the Central Counsel (5 – Bishops together) no later that February 15, 2010. 

Committee membership 
It was explained that we need commitment for the next 3-6 months. If for any reason they cannot commit, be it person reasons or for non-support of the Mandate, irrespective of the reason & no explanation was requested of them, they can excuse themselves. On that note, one member was replaces. 

Next meeting - April 10, 2010 in Niagara Falls, Canada. Further details will be provided. 

 Invitation will be posted on the website & invitations will be send to distant delegation that wish to attend. 

Meeting was concluded with a prayer and hope that we will be able to reach a resolution to the problems that plaques our Serbian Orthodox Church in North & South America.

Serving the Serbian Orthodox community in the Americas