Posts Tagged ‘Archbishop Dmitri Royster’

The Big Day

November 12, 2008


Today is the day the 15th All American Council elects a new Metropolitan.  I don’t have the faintest idea of all the logistics, sort of like how we elect a President.  I just know the process works and my contribution isn’t by pushing a button (or not, as the case may be for me this year), but through prayer.  To read a history of the OCA’s election of Metropolitans throughout its history, click here.   The most relevant point of the article summarizes the election process and the changes implemented for this Council:

Since the first primatial election of the Orthodox Church in America, there has been a gradual refinement of the electoral process. In the earliest elections, there was some uncertainty in the search for the right procedure for electing a Primate, which would conform to the universal Tradition of the Church. Those early elections were by vote of clergy and lay delegates alike. As there was not yet a Synod of Bishops in North America, the first two elections had to be confirmed by the Holy Synod in Russia. Until the clear definition, which has since remained essentially unchanged, of the election procedure in the Statutes of 1955 and 1971, electoral processes utilized in previous elections were generally ad hoc – worked out just prior to being implemented. The current process in place since 1955 allows for the voice of the entire Church to be heard in the nomination of candidates by vote of the entire All-American Council, which provides guidance for the election by the Holy Synod of Bishops. The entire assembled Church invokes the Holy Spirit in prayer as the council prepares to vote. If there is a consensus on who the Church’s Primate should be as expressed by a two-thirds majority vote on the first ballot by the council, only that candidate’s name is submitted to the Holy Synod. If the bishops vote to reject this candidate, they must give a reason for so doing. If no candidate receives two-thirds of the total votes on the first ballot by the council, each council delegate is required to write the names of two candidates on the ballot during the second round of voting, thus leaving the final decision between the two top candidates entirely up to the hierarchy as the highest authority in the Church. In this two-step nomination and election process, it is hoped that the selection of the Primate can be truly guided by the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, it was intended to reflect the dual nature of Orthodox ecclesial structure, which is both hierarchal and conciliar.

That seems clear enough doesn’t it?  If someone were taking bets on the likely outcome, I don’t think I’d like the odds on anyone.  So many of the best possible candidates, like Archbishop Dmitri of the Diocese of the South, I just can’t believe would be best suited due to their advanced age.  Others like Archbishop Job have expressed their desire for retirement.   And one of the dark horse favorites, Archbishop Hilarion of Vienna, has expressly stated he does not seek the job.  So, beats me who’ll be elected.  That’s the work of the Holy Spirit.

Here’s the agenda for today.  Funny how the most serious and important business of the Council, the election of a new Metropolitan, is just one little entry no different from the Continental Breakfast or a financial report.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

7:00 AM
Hierarchical Liturgy

9:15 AM
Continental Breakfast

10:30 AM
5th Plenary (Special Session): The Needs of Today

Scripture Reading/Reflection
Election of Metropolitan

1:30 PM
Lunch (on own)

3:00 PM
6th Plenary: Financing the Future

Scripture Reading/Reflection
Financial Forum moderated by Treasurer
2007 Financial Statement
2008 Year to-date
2009 budget
Pension Report
5:00 PM

7:30 PM
Dinner with Guest Speaker

Vladyka Dmitri’s ‘Come To Jesus Speech’

November 12, 2008


God bless Archbishop Dmitri and grant him many years!  He gave yesterday’s opening address at the All American Council that will be, I believe, a singular turning point in the present direction of the Orthodox Church in America, in its recovery from our present distress and a clear vision for the future of American Orthodoxy.  It was for want of another phrase, a ‘come to Jesus moment’, literally and figuratively, for everyone sitting in that hall and for all listening to the Ancient Faith Radio podcast.  If you didn’t immediately want to act on his pastoral call for repentance and reconciliation, your heart must be spiritually frozen.

Archbishop Dmitri talked plainly and openly about the recent difficulties, including the “local, isolated dishonesty’ of some Church officials.  He called it the ‘first major internal challenge’ confronting a young and growing church, which had exposed a bit of our immaturity, weakness and neglect.  He honestly expounded on the negative impact this has had on the Church and its ministries, and the resulting schism, judgmentalism, fear, anger and coffee-talk gossip and sermonizing this has caused among the laity and clergy.  He again and again urged reconciliation and a remembrance of our unity, and the primary importance of the Gospel message. 

We became slaves to the letters of the law and we forget Christian compassion and love and forgiveness…I think probably we were very close to it….It would appear that the current financial scandal commends more attention than the scandal of the Cross…[and] provokes a more ready response from us than Christ’s words to go forth and teach.

 Some policy changes were included in his speech – most importantly in where he believes the strength of the OCA is to be found:  at the parish and mission level and within sovereign dioceses.  He stressed the primary importance of the fundamentals of the faith, the “basic disciplines of Orthodox Christianity”, and the need for people to get back to the Gospel message and its “business” of proclaiming the Christian message, not an obsession with church politics (my interpretation) and “the letter of the law”.   

Archbishop Dmitri’s greatest accomplishment has been his leadership of the Diocese of the South and his almost single handed creation of the Diocese as it is today – a growing, mission-minded, conservative witness for Orthodoxy in the southern United States.   He knows what a strong diocese can do to preach and spread the faith, and brings this vision to the All American Council.  I believe a proposed resolution on the Council’s agenda, reducing the national church tithe to $50, would allow this money to be tithed more directly to the local diocese.   Archbishop Dmitri stressed that a sovereign diocese would allow dioceses to use their abilities at a local level rather than be subject to direction from a central church government  a thousand miles away.   His other, as yet unrealized, goal is for the establishment of diocesan pastoral schools to provide regional educational opportunities in areas of concern that are specific to a particular diocese.  Not as a way to undermine the schools of theology, but to augment them.

Throughout the entire address you can hear the pastoral love, the humility, wisdom and sound judgment of a life lived in serving the Church.  Vladyka’s ability to speak with charity and patience while at the same time calling everyone to try harder, to break out of their spititual limitations and sins is what the Christian life is about.  I find it ironic that we just elected a president whose message of hope and change motivated an entire country.  Our beloved Archbishop Dmitri nailed it here with the true meaning of hope and change.   Eis Polla Eti Despota!