Those who have attended an All-American Council [AAC] in years past know that one of the gathering’s highlights is the youth presentation traditionally held during the closing plenary session. And this year was no exception as, on Friday, July 27, 2018, children and teens participating in 19th All-American Council’s youth program delighted the hierarchs and delegates by performing selections of liturgical music they had learned during the week and shared insights into their role in the Church—present and future. Priest Benjamin Tucci, who directed the youth program, spoke movingly of the importance of such activities in keeping young people connected to the Church.
What was exceptional this year, however, was the amazing response to their presentation, which led Archpriest John Jillions, Chancellor, to announce his intention to pledge $1,000.00, with the blessing of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, toward funding a full-time Youth Director for the Orthodox Church in America. Delegates were quick to seize the microphones to add their pledges and donations and, within a matter of ten minutes, commitments totalling $87,000.00 had been made by some 60 delegates and their parishes in the spontaneous floor drive. Many other delegates stated their intention to “spread the word” in this regard upon their return home. [Donations from those not present at the plenary session may be made online.]
The remainder of the closing plenary session was filled with a variety of reports and brief presentations. Video reports were presented by the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., the Diocese of the West, and Archdiocese of Western Pennsylvania. Archpriests Theodore Boback and Joseph Gallick presented the report of the Military Chaplaincy as chaplains representing the US Air Force, Army, Navy, and National Guard spoke of their ministries with military personnel, at home and abroad, and the importance of providing them with spiritual care. on Institutional Chaplaincy was presented by its Director, Archpriest Steven Voytovich. A resolution was later affirmed thanking Father Steven for his work with Clinical Pastoral Education at the seminaries, and particularly for his work as Dean of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary.
Seraphim Danckaert, recently named Director of FOCUS North America, updated delegations on the growing work of the nationwide Pan-Orthodox agency in ministering to the needy in multiple locations across the US. OCA Treasurer Melanie Ringa then presented a check for $6,000.00 on behalf of the OCA in support of the tremendous ministry FOCUS provides.
In the open discussion that followed, various questions and current issues within the life of the Church were considered. His Grace, Bishop Paul of Chicago and the Midwest addressed the issue of spiritual abuse that was raised at the 18th AAC in 2015 in Atlanta. He spoke of the formation of a working group to address this and related concerns and prepare resources for use in the OCA’s Clergy Continuing Education Program.
Prior to the celebration of the closing Service of Thanksgiving and the installation of newly elected Metropolitan Council and Pension Board members, Metropolitan Tikhon offered heartfelt thanks to the countless individuals who made the AAC a success.