Summary of Clergy-Laity Decisions
The 44th Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America took place July 1-5 in Boston, Massachusetts. Among its decisions were:
1. The adoption of a 2019-2020 Archdiocesan Budget. The budget provided for increases in the National Ministries Allocation of 0% in 2019 and up to 3% in 2020 (based on potential need), and the re-introduction of “third leg” funding to the Clergy and Lay Employees Pension Program of the Archdiocese (leg one being the participant contributions and leg two the “employer” contributions from the parishes and Archdiocese). At the close of the Budget discussion the budget as presented showed a significant deficit for 2019 and 2020, and the Plenary Session directed the Archdiocese to make necessary cuts in other parts of the budget to bring it into balance by the October Council meeting.
2. The adoption of new Policies for the Safety of Youth and Children. Unlike the old Youth Protection Manual, which was designed specifically for Metropolis camp and retreat programs, the new Policies are intended to be implemented at all Youth Ministries of the Archdiocese, Metropolises, and Parishes. Included in the Policies are two major sections: the policies (rules), and a best practices section. The Policies were crafted to take into account the diversity of circumstances between parishes, so communities with 5 children and 150 children could all be able to apply the policies in a sustainable and responsible way. (Thanks to our own Archon Peter Clyde Papadakos and Rhea Ballas for their work in assisting the Archdiocese in the crafting of this document.)
3. The adoption of over twenty amendments to the Archdiocesan Regulations. There were three broad categories of amendments: those affecting the Archdiocese, Metropolis, and Parishes.
• Archdiocesan Amendments: Provide for better separation of duties within the Executive Committee, require regular reporting of financial situation to the Council, audited financial statements prepared in a timely manner, better protection of restricted funds, and professional competence for certain committee chairs (among them Finance and Audit).
• Metropolis Amendments: Provide for a functional Audit Committee on the Metropolis level, annual presentation of financial statements to the Assembly and Parishes, including Financial statements that have either been audited professionally or reviewed by professionals on behalf of the Audit Committee, and the adoption of a Whistleblower Policy.
• Parish Amendments: Provide that the same restrictions to Parish Council membership provided in Article 24 also apply to the parish Audit and Election committees, and that the Parish must send its audited (whether done by a professional firm or by the parish’s Audit Committee) Financial Statements to the Metropolis annually.
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