Strategic Planning Committee members, OCA department chairs, Meet


SYOSSET, NY [OCA] — In an effort to continue seeking broad input into the future direction of the Orthodox Church in America, members of the Strategic Planning Committee [SPC] met with representatives of several OCA departments at the Chancery here on August 17, 2010.

“Most department chairpersons or co-chairpersons participated in the meeting and shared the visions, accomplishments, future plans and resource needs of their various ministries and provided specific feedback on the Working Draft Strategic Plan,” according to SPC member Priest John Vitko. “SPC members were impressed by what these departments are accomplishing despite the very significant resource constraints under which they have been operating.”
Highlights of departmental reports follow.

The Department of Christian Education (Matushka Alexandra Safchuk, co-chair) has developed a variety of new study materials now available on the DCE web site at The department also offers consulting services for parish school programs. Future plans include an increased emphasis on the critical role the family plays in faith formation.

The Department of Christian Service and Humanitarian Aid (Donna Karabin, chair) provides training and resource material for Christian witness, including the popular “Resource Handbook for Lay Ministries” available on the OCA web site at, which features over 300 “how to” articles on parish life, outreach ministries, senior life and families, and related ministries. Future plans include a continuation of the work accomplished at the 2004 and 2007 parish ministries conferences, in collaboration with Institutional Chaplaincies and other OCA departments and various pan-Orthodox organizations to promote parish development of charitable outreach ministries.

The Department of Evangelization (Priest Marcus Burch) continues to support full-time clergy in fledging mission communities through its Planting Grant Program. The department also has initiated work on revitalization programs for parishes and missions.

The Department of Institutional Chaplaincies (Archpriest Steven Voytovich, director) now lists 18 credentialed Orthodox clergy and lay chaplains serving in corrections facilities, hospices, and hospital and psychiatric care institutions. The department is collaborating with the Department of Christian Service and Humanitarian Aid to create a program to develop and empower lay ministry in parishes. Future plans call for offering ongoing encouragement for and pursuing development of Orthodox institutional chaplaincies within the broader pastoral care and counseling community and for making chaplains available to serve as resource persons for parish-based ministry.

The Department of Liturgical Music and Translations (Prof. David Drillock, chair) places a priority on making liturgical music resources available to parishes. At present, about 2,000 pages of troparia and kontakia and the texts for some 160 services throughout the year are available on the OCA web site. Future plans include producing web-based choral learning tools for choir members and directors.

The Office of Military and VA Chaplaincies (Archpriest Theodore Boback, director) has 20 OCA priests on active or reserve duty, ministering to Armed Forces personnel. Chaplains have served in the Middle East during the recent wars. They celebrate liturgical services, provide pastoral counseling; and visit service members at work, in the barracks, in combat environments, and in the hospital. Nine OCA priests are serving in VA Medical Centers. The department plans to place more emphasis in developing parish programs for returning veterans, caregivers, and families.

The Department of Pastoral Life and Ministry (input via e-mail from Priest Sergius Halvorsen, chair) recognizes the demands placed upon clergy in parish life and assists them in their ministries through workshops, seminars, retreats, and publications, and developing resources for addressing family concerns. The department is currently gathering data on the most pressing needs facing today’s clergy and their families, which will be used to develop an action plan.

The Department of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministry (Protodeacon Joseph Matusiak, chair) has, for the past three years, emphasized the critical college years by cooperating closely with planting Orthodox Christian Fellowship chapters on college and university campuses across North America and developing programs such as “Real Break,” which provides students the opportunity for short term mission trips as an alternative to traditional “Spring Break” venues.
SPC members participating in the meeting included Priest John Vitko, acting chair; Archpriests Theodore Boback and Michael Oleksa; Eleana Silk; and Dmitri Solodow, who were joined by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, SPC Episcopal liaison; Archpriest Eric Tosi, Chancery liaison; and Archpriest Alexander Garklavs, OCA Chancellor.