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
5th Plenary (Special Session): The Needs of Today
Election of Metropolitan
Lunch (on own)
6th Plenary: Financing the Future
Financial Forum moderated by Treasurer
2007 Financial Statement
2008 Year to-date
Dinner with Guest Speaker