Chicago, IL - The annual meeting of the Central Church Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America was held in Chicago, Illinois, at the Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, on December 5 and 6, 2008. His Eminence Metropolitan Christopher of Midwestern America and the Holy Resurrection Cathedral clergy together with the executive board were this year's hosts.
His Eminence Metropolitan Christopher, president of the Episcopal Council, opened the meeting with a prayer. He greeted the bishops, attending clergy and members of the council and wished them success in their work for the good of the church.
Besides Metropolitan Christopher, also attending the meeting was Bishop Longin of the New Gracanica Diocese, Bishop Dr. Mitrophan of Eastern America and Bishop Dr. Maxim of Western America. Bishop Georgije of Canada was unable to attend the meeting.
All members of the council from the Midwestern Metropolitanate as well as the Eastern and Western Diocese were in full attendance. Dr. Goran Popovic, vice president of the diocesan administrative board of the Canadian Diocese also attended.
Considering the fact that excerpts from the minutes of last year's meeting, together with all decisions, had been mailed to all members they were not read at the meeting. In his report Brian Gerich, treasurer of the council, reported that all dioceses are regularly sending in their assessments making it possible to pay all bills in a timely manner. The monthly honorariam of $450 to all clergy widows is being paid regularly.
His Eminence Metropolitan Christopher stressed the requirment of all parishes to pay into the pension fund for their clergy.
The administrator for the health insurance, Protonamesnik Milovan Katanic, submitted his written report on the state of the clergy health care group. As of 2008 our members joined the Orthodox Health Plan, which uses Aetna as their carrier. The advantage of being in this group is that it is a larger group including Greek, Antiochian and Armenian clergy. Since the group is much larger individual cases which might need more medical attention do not have an affect on the other members as was the case in the past. There are twenty five Serbian clergy in the group, while 23 clergy receive only Vision and Dental coverage. Monthly health insurance premiums are $1,704 for families and $808 for singles.
Branimir Simic-Glavaski, chairman of the Theological School Foundation, submitted his written report on the finances of the Foundation. The Central council, once again, appeals to all church school congregations to take a more active part in the financial aide of this Fund which helps our Theological School.
The editorial board of The Path of Orthodoxy submitted their report. The newspaper is made up of two sections, English and Serbian. Editors of the English section are V. Rev. Stavrophor Rade Merick, V. Rev. Bratislav Krsic and Protonamesnik Milovan Katanic. Editor of the Serbian section is V. Rev. Stavrophor Nedeljko Lunich. Technical editor is Vesna Meinert. The 12 and 16 page newspaper is published regularly. The Publication Committee of the Standing Committees, of which The Path of Orthodoxy is a part, includes also the official website of the S.O.C in North and South America. Editor of the English site is Protonamesnik Milovan Katanic, while the Serbian editor has not been named as of yet. The Council discussed the possibilities of combining the two newspapers The Path of Orthodoxy and The Diocesan Observer. Editors from both publications will consider this option.
The 2008 budget of the Theological School in Libertyville was approved, with a slight increase. His Eminence spoke of the significance of this school, from which over fifty graduates have been ordained and are currently in the service of the Serbian Church. The school is mainly supported through the benevolent fund while a part of the budget is paid from the treasury of the Central Council. The council thanked Metropolitan Christopher, the dean of the school, for his great contribution in helping this school survive. The Council suggested that the possibility of moving the school into the building of the New Gracanica Diocese will be investigated.
V. Rev. Stavrophor Nikola Ceko submitted his report on the work of the Standing Committees of which he is chairman. The committee is made up of the following subcommittees: Christian Education, Communication and Publication, Youth Ministry, Serbian Language, Culture and Heritage Committee, Stewardship, Liturgical Music Ministry, Young Adult Ministry. All subcommittees are well functioning. General meetings are held twice a year, while the subcommittees meet on a more regular basis or hold conference calls. The council accepted his report.
Metropolitan Christopher informed the Central Council members that the Holy Hierarchical Assembly approved the Constitution of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America. In the Constitution, Article 8 regarding the structure of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America, the following Dioceses are listed: The Metropolitanate of Midwestern America-Gracanica, the Eastern American Diocese, the Western American Diocese, and the Diocese of Canada. The parishes of the former New Gracanica Diocese become part of the existing Diocese on which territory of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America they exist.
The Constitution and Uniform Rules and Regulations was printed and distributed to all members of our dioceses, a coply was also included in The Path of Orthodoxy. In the Uniform Rules the term „membership“ was substituted with the term „stewardship“. All church school congregations have accepted or are in the process of accepting stewardship in place of membership. The Path of Orthodoxy continues to publish articles about stewardship, while parishes are required to include information about it in their local newsletters. Stewardship, compared to membership, has proven to be more effective. Parishioners are left to fulifll their requirments to their parish and diocese according to their own conscience and in their own capacity.
His Grace Bishop Mitrophan informed the central council that the Diocese of Eastern America will host the next Sabor which will be held at St. George Serbian Orthodox Church in Canton, Ohio, from August 12-14, 2009.
The next annual meeting of the Central church council will be held December 10 and 11, 2009 at St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in Pheonix, Arizona.
Metropolitan Christopher expressed his sincere gratitude to the clergy and executive board of Holy Resurrection Cathedral for their warm hospitality.
The meeting was closed with the hymn to the Mother of God, „It is Meet“.
V. Rev. Stavrophor Nedeljko Lunich
Central Church Council Secretary