Proposal 1: By The Diocesan Stewardship Commission
Implementing Stewardship In the Local Parish
WHEREAS Orthodox Christian Stewardship is a Christ-centered lifestyle that acknowledges reverence, and responsibility before God; and
WHEREAS Orthodox Christian Stewardship teaches that all the faithful are accountable for the life,health, time, talents, and resources that God gives them; and
WHEREAS Orthodox Christian Stewardship calls on all the faithful to share the gifts that God bestows upon them thankfully, willingly, generously, and cheerfully and to set aside a portion of these gifts for the life and mission of the Church; therefore
BE IT RESOLVED,
1. That the clergy and people of this diocese give thanks to Almighty God for the abundance of His blessings and the opportunity to be wise stewards of the gifts of time, talent, and treasure that He so richly provides.
2. That the clergy and the people of the diocese affirm that the Holy Spirit gives sufficient gifts of time and talent for the building up of the Church; and, further, that the clergy and people of the diocese commit themselves to the wise use of these gifts for the service of Christ and the growth of His Church.
3. That the clergy and people of this diocese affirm the biblical principle that offerings for the financial support of the Church should be given gratefully in proportion to the blessings that God supplies; and, further, that the clergy and people of this diocese affirm the biblical standard of the tithe, committing themselves to work toward tithing as their goal for proportionate financial giving in the diocese.
4. That the parish council of every parish in the diocese designate a local stewardship coordinator to work with the diocesan Stewardship Commission and to lead the stewardship planning, education, and programs of the parish; and, further, that it forward the name of this coordinator to the Diocesan Stewardship Commission by the beginning of Great Lent 2014.
5. That the parish council of every parish in the diocese review the stewardship practices of its parish according to the principles that the diocesan Stewardship Commission has laid out in its resources; and, further, that it report its findings to the Diocesan Stewardship Commission by the beginning of the Church Year 2014.
6. That the parish council of every parish in the diocese develop a plan for the growth of the stewardship of time, talent, and treasure in its parish using the guidance and materials of the diocesan stewardship commission; and, further, that it report its plan to the Diocesan Stewardship Commission by the beginning of the Church Year 2014
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Proposal 2: By - Very Rev. Protopresbyter Lawrence Barriger
Camp Nazareth is nearing its fourth decade of operation, and has provided a positive experience of Orthodox life for thousands of young people. In all of that time, it has operated under the governance of the Diocesan Bishop and the Board of Trustees of the Diocese.
It is my belief that the time has come for Camp Nazareth to be incorporated as a legal, non-profit entity of the Diocese with its own set of Trustees under the Chairmanship of the Diocesan Bishop. The Board of Camp Nazareth would consist of no less than seven members who are appointed by the Diocesan Bishop. Two of the Trustees would be priests of the Diocese who are serving on the Diocesan Board of Trustees. Two of the Trustees would be lay trustees who are serving on the Diocesan Board of Trustees. If the Diocesan Bishop desires, the remaining Trustees may be from a canonical Orthodox jurisdiction which regularly uses the Camp facilities; otherwise, they would be drawn from the lay membership of the Diocese.
Apart from the legal protection that incorporation would bring to the Camp, it is often difficult at the Board of Trustees Meetings in Johnstown where Camp business is attended to, to make informed decisions about Camp matters. The Camp Board of Trustees wouldmeet at Camp Nazareth as often as necessary and be able to better grasp maintenance and oversight issues.
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Proposal 3: By - St John's Parish, Ambridge, PA
Cost Effective Health Insurance
Rationale: One of the greatest expenses every parish has is health insurance for its pastors, their families and parish employees. There is little opportunity to bring health insurance costs down as an independent parish purchasing plans or even a small group of parishes.
With the Affordable Care Act on the horizon, health insurance is changing radically. Preexisting conditions will not be allowed to be used by insurance companies to block participation. Likewise insurance exchanges will be set up in many states where lowerincome individuals can buy more cost effective plans. In addition, there has always been savings in participating in larger group plans that pull together larger pools of employees to spread risk out and manage cost more effectively.
Proposal: In this climate, I propose that the Diocese create a Diocesan Insurance Committee to explore health insurance options and come back to the Diocesan parishes with a recommendation for how to purchase health insurance for pastors, their families and church employees. They should explore all options—from ACROD parishes participating in larger Orthodox or clergy/church group plans nationally to the possibility of parishes giving money to pastors/employees and letting them purchase insurance in the new exchanges.
Membership should include those with human resource experience, healthcare experience and insurance experience.
The Committee should comeback with a recommendation to the Diocese to consider taking to parishes by April 2014. This time frame will allow for the opportunity if need be to switch insurance products in time for most open enrollment periods October to December 2014 for implementation in Jan. 2015.
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Proposal 4: By - St John's Parish, Ambridge, PA
Diocesan Web-Based Religious Education
In the 21st Century, the Internet is being used to reach people with messages where traditional ways of delivering the messages are failing or no longer as effective as they once were. The Internet has allowed churches to educate consumers about them, their belief systems and their services. Even the monasteries of Mt .Athos use the Internet as an educational tool for the faith.
One of the challenges faced by almost every parish in our diocese is consistent, meaningful religious education programs for youth. Whether we like it or not, we must deal with the realities that many families do not get their children to religious education classes. There can be many reasons for this—laziness and lack of priority are among them. But also, thereis the mobility of families – those who go away on weekends; children’s activity schedules and homework loads; for teens, job schedules.
Because of these influences, sometimes the number of children attending is so small that it is hard to gain the interaction needed to teach effectively in a classroom setting. Teachers know that it is easier to motivate young people week after week when there are more of them together.
Proposal: Create a Diocesan web-based education program for youth. This would entail creating age- appropriate curricula (by educational level) then transferring it to the Diocesan website so that young people can access their lessons in their own time according to theirs and their families’ schedules. Online Testing can be built into the curricula to determine if the material is being learned.
Interactive sessions can be scheduled periodically with clergy who are expert teachers and teachers via video conferencing or Skype so that youth can ask questions and interact with one another. Now there is the potential that 50 14-year- olds can be in the “same class” interacting instead of two! This is especially doable for our Diocese given that our parishes only fall in two time zones!
Questions can be sent by email or text to the teaching staff which is now a Diocesan staff, with each parish only needing one educational coordinator to coordinate participation and interactive events.
The system would not allow each student to progress to the next level without passing the online test. But then students could work at their own pace –some moving faster some moving slower. In addition, there would be the guarantee that the material is uniform throughout the Diocese – so all children in the Diocese are learning Diocesan- approved accurate information about the faith and our practices. Materials (and even interactive sessions) can be archived so that they can be revisited at any time to reinforce lessons learned.
Participation should be incentivized at the Diocesan level to motivate students and families to have their children participate. And those parishes that CAN get their students together can still do so and use the computer- based curricula in their religious education programs and even participate as a group in interactive sessions.
This approach is being used increasingly and successfully by colleges and universities who created it initially for people who had careers and also needed continuing education-- in essence, busy people whose schedules do not allow for classroom time. This has becomethe reality of schedules for many young families today.
This task should be charged to an expanded Diocesan Education Commission which should include clergy, teachers, electronic communications professionals and marketers or to a newly created committee with similar composition.
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Note: included with Proposal 3
Proposal 5: By - St Nicholas Church Barton, Ohio
Creation of Recommended Church School Curriculum
We propose that the Diocese form a committee to explore the development of a recommended K-through 12 Church School Curriculum.
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Proposal 6: By - Protopresbyter Ronald Hazuda
Annual Increase of Diocesan Assessment Based on CPI
The Diocesan Individual Assessment increase should be voted upon at each Sobor, to be increased by the same percentage CPI (Consumer Price Index) as is given annually to the clergy. This increase is needed to help fund the Diocesan Institutions, and is necessary due to the decreased membership census taken each year.
Since the Sobor is held every three years, then the formula to increase the individual assessment should be in effect for three years, through the year the next Sobor is convened.
Download Proposal 6 (PDF Format)