On Thursday 17 December the Diocesan Council convened in Croydon for its final meeting in 2015. In attendance were His Grace Bishop George of Canberra; Mitred Archpriests Michael Protopopov and Nikita Chemodakov; Archpriests Nicholas Karipoff, Gabriel Makarov, and George Lapardin; Priest James Carles, Protodeacon Alexander Abramoff, Nicholas Nedachin, Alexander Bialocerkowski, Nicholas Wirubov and Lubov Cowall.
The Diocesan Council heard the usual reports on Diocesan property, administration, and governance. It was noted that the reorganisation of the Diocesan Office was proceeding satisfactorily, with Ms Irina Shchelokova engaged as Finance Officer and Ms Marika Varbola engaged as Administration Officer. These new positions have been filled in order to support the transition of long-serving Office Manager Ms Vera Wheat to a new role as Personal Assistant to Metropolitan Hilarion and Bishop George. It was agreed that clergy would be formally advised of these changes early in 2016 and that parishes and Diocesan institutions would at the same time be provided with a list of the matters for which each position had responsibility. Over lunch, Diocesan Council members had the opportunity to meet and speak with Ms Shchelokova.
A detailed financial report was presented by Diocesan Treasurer Nicholas Nedachin. While noting an improved budgetary forecast, Mr Nedachin reported a deficit in the current financial year attributable to increased salary costs and lower than expected revenue. The structure of the budget and a range of responses was discussed. Of these, greatest attention was given to ensuring compliance with the existing levy system and prompt payment to the Diocese of outstanding debts.
In his capacity as Chairman of the Diocesan Youth Committee, Archpriest George Lapardin gave a report on youth activities, noting in particular the good work of Grigory Metlenko and Dimitri Metlenko in establishing Syezd Australia to better support the organisation of the annual Diocesan youth conferences. The timing, duration and location of various youth activities was discussed, and consideration was given to ways of better engaging young people in Diocesan life.
Having heard a report on anniversaries of significance in 2016 in the life of the Diocese and of the wider Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, the Diocesan Council resolved to organise commemorative events and services to mark the twentieth anniversary of Metropolitan Hilarion’s service as Ruling Bishop of the Diocese, the fortieth anniversary of the repose of Archbishop Sava (Raevsky), and the fiftieth anniversary of the repose of Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco.
Careful consideration was given to outstanding items of business from the Seventeenth Diocesan Assembly held in December 2013, and in-principle agreement was given to plans for the Eighteenth Diocesan Assembly due to be held in 2016. It is planned to convene the Eighteenth Diocesan Assembly in conjunction with a formal celebration of Metropolitan Hilarion’s twentieth anniversary as Ruling Bishop.
Attention was given to a number of requests for financial assistance, and the future of Friends of Indonesia – Australia – a committee established in 2010 to support the clergy of the Indonesian Deanery – was discussed.
The Diocesan Council plans to meet next early in March 2016.