Metropolitan Council meeting opens with spiritual retreat at OCA chancery

Members of the Orthodox Church in America's Metropolitan Council gathered at the OCA Chancery in Oyster Bay Cove, NY, on Wednesday, February 18, 2009, for the opening of their 2009 spring meeting. The Metropolitan Council is composed of the His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, chairman; the three statutory officers of the Church -- the Chancellor, the Secretary, and the Treasurer -- one priest and one layperson from each diocese, elected by their respective diocesan assemblies; and three priests and three laypeople elected by the All-American Council.

Earlier this year, the Holy Synod of Bishops decided that the Lesser Synod of Bishops would also take part in Metropolitan Council meetings. Lesser Synod members present for the meeting were His Eminence, Archbishop Job of Chicago and the Midwest, and His Grace, Bishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West. Also present was His Eminence, Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada, who was taking the place of Lesser Synod member, His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate, who was unable to attend the meeting.

The meeting began with an evening retreat lead by Metropolitan Jonah in Chancery's St. Sergius of Radonezh Chapel. The theme of the retreat was "The Spiritual Process."

In his talk, the Metropolitan said that the essence of the spiritual process is to overcome one's ego. "All of our thoughts about ourselves constitute our ego," His Beatitude explained. "We live in our heads and we make the mistake that our ego is who we really are." Metropolitan Jonah said that the teaching of the Orthodox Church is that true human identity is not found in the self but in God. Only through overcoming the passions a through a complete cooperation of human will with Divine will--synergy--can authentic human life be experienced.

Following Metropolitan Jonah's presentation, hierarchs and Metropolitan Council members discussed issues from his talk in light of the crisis that OCA faced in the recent years and of the desire in the Church at large for healing and strategic visioning, two clearly identified priorities emerging from the OCA's 15th All-American Council in November 2008. An emphasis in this discussion was on the role that Church leadership will play in the ongoing healing and growth of the Church.