With the blessing of our Bishop Longin, and thanks to the parishes of our diocese as well as the Diocesan Council, we had the best assembly to date.
The clergy of our diocese had a very productive seminar, with four presenters on two topics, and healthy discussion. The topics were sanctity of life and pastoral challenges of the 21st century. The presenters were Priests: Milos Vesin, Radovan Jakovljevic, Turbo Qualls, and Nemanja Tesic.
The assembly was attended by over 90 delegates.
The reports were given in writing, and abbreviated versions were presented at the meeting.
The reports were from the youth department, the religious education department, the Circle of Serbian Sisters, the Observer, the Diocesan Council, the financial secretary, and the Auditing Committee. It was more than obvious that much work is being done. Productive discussion followed with many good suggestions and recommendations.
Due to inflation, as well as additional needs of our diocese,the Diocesan Council recommended an increase in the parish assessments.
Everyone saw the need for an increase, and,instead of the percentage originally mentioned, everyone voted to increase the assessments from $60 per member (as we have had for the past thirteen years) to $90 beginning on April 1st.
Two workshops were held. The first one addressed not only communications with parishes and the importance of sharing things with one another, but also the work of the Communications Committee of the Diocesan Council with the blessing of the bishop.
The other workshop concerned social events we have in different parishes and how we use those to share our faith and our culture and to gain material benefits for the ministries of the Church. The amazing array of things happening includes community gardens, establishment of cemeteries, organization of festivals, and use of social media and computer programs.
The financial report was given by the financial secretary, treasurer, and secretary of the diocese. A few questions were answered, and the report was well received.
The budget was presented Friday evening and was approved on Saturday after everyone had some time to look it over. Barely any questions were asked, but a definite concern was expressed for the needs of our diocese and our parishes, especially regarding educational ministries and our children and youth. The need for hiring a full-time Youth Director as soon as possible was specified.
As part of the assembly, our youth department organized the Oratorical Festival where we were able to hear the winning essays and were deeply touched by them. One of our youth shared how he is surprised to feel a much greater connection and closeness to his church friends even though he only meets with these Serbian friends a couple of times a year but spends almost every day with his school friends.
This year, instead of taking random questions, the Diocesan Council sent an email to all the parishes prior to the assembly asking everyone to submit questions ahead of time in order to give the council time to prepare good answers which could then be discussed.
Towards the end of the meeting, our bishop initiated something which was not planned. He invited parishes to come up to the microphone and share good news from their communities. Representatives from many parishes came forth and shared amazing things, and this ended up being the best way to conclude such a meeting. It was also spontaneously decided that next year we will have this assembly at the parish in Omaha, Nebraska, and the Diocesan Council in the meantime will look into continuing such a practice from now on if that seems feasible.
Even though these kinds of meetings (“100 људи 100 ћуди” where one hundred people have one hundred different opinions) change direction at times, the idea has always been and continues to be that the main reason we gather once a year (as the representatives of all parishes) under one roof, is to pray together and have brotherly fellowship. This in itself is great strength. The second reason we gather is to do necessary business for the good of our Church.
Glory to God and thanks to God’s people, this year was an excellent example of which way we should always be heading.