Diocesan clergy and laity gathered together with his Eminence Archbishop Benjamin and His Grace Bishop Daniel during our 2016 Diocesan Assembly which took place October 11-14 at the Holy Virgin Mary Cathedral in Los Angeles, CA. Representing our church were Fr. Michael, Dn. George and Matushka Xenia.
We spent three packed days together, digesting a lot of information and participating in beautiful services. It was very special to hear so many clergy sing together. Some of the information shared included financial details, (all the finacial reports can be found on the diocesan website at http://dowoca.org). This year, financial support to the diocese was changed from a per-person basis to a percentage basis. This change was very positive, because the total diocese income was not reduced. It also lifted the burden off of smallish parishes with less income, and it gives all of us the best example to follow by giving a percentage of our income instead of giving an arbitrary amount.
Throughout the Assembly, reports were given about various initiatives and programs of the Diocese. Here are a few I found especially interesting
Internship programs for new priests in our diocese. A number of churches in our diocese are sponsoring newly-ordained priests for a year or two so that they can gain valuable experience. Many of us know Fr. Steven Osburn from St Paul Church in Las Vegas who is a participant in this program.
News from Saint Barbaras Monastery. Mother Victoria and the nuns at Saint Barbara's in Santa Paula have been working hard to complete their new Chapel. We watched a great presentation by their Program Manager on the progress they've made. Unfortunately, they have had a setback with some state permits and it looks like the opening of the chapel will be delayed until next year.
Progress in Bozeman. Fr David from St Anthony the Great Mission in Bozeman, Montana gave a presentation about the new building his parishioniers have built which was very inspiring.
A Serbian Summer. Macrina Carbo gave a report on a joint mission trip of Orthodox young people and the Nagivators club. This year, the group went to Serbia for a number of weeks where they helped the Serbian Orthodox Church host a bible study for young adults, helping them to re-connect them to faith of their ancestors. I sure hope we will be able to send some of our youngsters on such an amazing self discovery mission trip in the future, both here in the USA and abroad
Diocesan Adoption of a statement of Sincerely Held Religious Belief (SHRB). His Eminence and His Grace also introduced an OCA wide initiative to adopt a statement of Sincerly Held Religious Belief regarding the Church's position on sexuality and marriage. Given the current political and socialogical climate, and in the hope of protecting our churches and organizations from malicious law suits in the future. the Holy Synod has formulated this SHRB (read it here) which it requires all OCA dioceses and parishes to adopt. A motion to accept this at the diocesan level was offered and passed. We will need to adopt this in our parish as well.
Being able to meet, pray and work together for the building up of our Diocese is always an awe-inspiring task. There are so many people who work tirelessly to plant, grow and maintain the Church here in the West. I highly encourage our parishioners to participate in this process at future assemblies if blessed with the opportunity.
- Matushka Xenia