How the OCA Must be the Good Samaritan

At the ANAC which just concluded this past week, the delegation from the Diocese of the Midwest showed a fair amount of solidarity in wanting the OCA assessment lowered.  Despite the mood swing which had occurred in the majority of delegates to the ANAC as a result of the election of Metropolitan Jonah, the Midwest delegates to a large extent did not get on that bandwagon and were not swept away by the elation of the assembly.  There are many reasons for this but I think one thing the Midwest’s resistance to keeping the same assessment shows is that the Diocesan members as a whole were not simply trying to punish the central administration for years of corruption.  The delegates’ opinion on the issue was not merely an emotional one (as witnessed by their not changing their “feelings” with the election of the new metropolitan).  The Midwest’s problem with the assessment runs much deeper – it has to deal with the very purpose and existence of the central church.  As the diocese which paid the largest assessment for the past 20 years,  it is the diocese which lost the most due to the corruption of the central church.   The central church took plenty of funds from the Midwest at the expense of the parishes themselves, and to the point of impoverishing and crippling some of them.   This siphoning off of diocesan resources never benefitted either the diocese or the OCA, but was wasted on the lavish and foolish wishes of a few people centered around the former chancellor.  The Midwest was saying enough to throwing money into the black hole called the central church.   Having new people in the offices of the central church doesn’t change the questionable nature of the central church.  The corruption may be gone, but what exactly is an improved central church going to do for the parishes that the diocese couldn’t do for them?   The question the Midwest is posing does not say the central church is dubious because of corruption, but what is the purpose and benefit of a central church at all?   (To be honest this is a question that the “strategic plan” will look at, and a question Metropolitan Jonah seems totally comfortable with).
The reality in the “Rust Belt” is that the collapsing US economy will hit us hard – in places where many jobs and people had already fled, harder times are at hand.  Parishes have for a long time struggled to survive but economic realities will further reduce parish income while the central assessment will continue to take away from the parish the same dollar amount which will become a bigger percentage of the shrinking parish budget.   In reality all OCA assessment paying parishes have been treated to 20 years of assessments being little better than theft and embezzlement and wastefulness and excesses.  And since the former metropolitans and former staff members have not come forth with the financial records to show how all the monies taken by them were used for the good of the church, it seems not unreasonable to assume a great amount of money went down the toilet of their personal life styles and choices. 
The membership of the OCA was abused.    Now  they want some sense that the people currently in charge recognize that the membership was in fact  abused, lied to, betrayed, robbed and raped for the last 20 years.  The membership needs some validation that though their own giving and sacrifice may have been squandered by the former administration and its inner circle, that injustice has not gone unnoticed by those who now form the central church.

When the Synod or the chancery tries to push a “let’s move on” agenda, it is telling the victims of the scandal that “your pain and anger are unfounded and meaningless – get over it.”   The membership needs some recognition that they were victimized by corrupt individuals.  When the Synod or the chancery passes over past events as if they never happened, it re-victimizes the membership once again.  The victims of assault and crime need some affirmation, some validation,  that their loss and pain is real, and that others recognize their pain and suffering and feel outraged by what has happened to them.   The lack of outrage on the part of the bishops especially is unconscionable. 

Like the Good Samaritan of the parable the central church administration and the synod need to stop and take care of these victims, even though they too may have  been wounded themselves by the “robbers.”   It is best for the OCA not to try to step over those feeling victimized by the scandal, nor to pass by “on the other side” when the victims groan or express their anger.   The current leadership despite the wounds and injustices they have suffered have to give validation and affirmation to the hurt and the loss people have suffered – do not deny the hurt, pass by it, or bury it.   We all need to be willing to stop on our journey (rush) to our destination (the great celebration of the new metropolitan and new direction and new future and new hope for the OCA) to tend to those so terribly hurt and scandalized by the corruption – people had their faith and trust stolen from them.  The fact that something good and new has occurred in the OCA does not mean we can stop being the good Samaritan and behave like the priest and Levite who were no doubt in a rush to some important and exciting event of their own,  and so left the victim to suffer on the side of the road.  Remember in the parable not only did the Samaritan tend to the victim and provide for him, but he also promised to come back and pay for all of the additional expenses needed for the recovery of the victim.  We in the OCA can go to the consecration of the new metropolitan, but then let us not simply “move on” but let us come back to those who were robbed of their faith, trust and hope in the Church and/or in the OCA.  Instead of simply continuing to take money from them, let us go back and revisit those who are hurting and hear their concerns and try to restore their good will by providing for some of their needs instead of faulting them for recovering at the inn instead of joining the celebration in Jericho.