Articles on Orthodox Christian Charity
The month of December every year is designated as Order of St. Ignatius month, in conjunction with the feast day of St. Ignatius on December 20. The Order is the philanthropic arm of the Antiochian Archdiocese and one of its most vital lay ministries, under the guidance of Metropolitan Philip and the Archdiocese Board of Trustees. Currently, there are nearly 4,000 members supporting approximately 38% of the Archdiocese's budget, as well as a host of other worthy causes including: camping and college conference scholarships, married seminarian assistance, Antiochian Village, Teen SOYO Special Olympics, theological and religious education, clergy retirement, Project Mexico, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), The Treehouse Family Ministry, and Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF).
Dr. Elias K. Hebeka, the North America Vice-Chair for the Order, wrote in December 2012's The Word magazine that the Order's Governing Council "is a group of volunteers, elected or appointed members of our Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese, that has the responsibility to make many of the important decisions for the Order.
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — This young displaced Syrian mother of two now living in the southern city of Dara'a carries away new thick blankets and bedding provided to her by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) in cooperation with church partner, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA). As Syria's night time temperatures dip closer to freezing, displaced Syrian mothers forced to flee their homes empty-handed are struggling to keep their children warm and sheltered from the impending harsh weather.
This will be the third winter that the people of Syria have had to face since the conflict began, and resources to protect against the cold are dwindling as the civil war drags on. IOCC/GOPA is responding to the urgent needs of 255,000 of Syria's most vulnerable with the distribution of winter protection – heavy blankets, bedding kits, children's winter clothing, and shoes.
Join with us this Sunday, November 24, 2013, to mark IOCC Sunday – A Day of Sharing, as we remember those who are in need by sharing our blessings. Please share with your family and friends about IOCC's life-changing humanitarian mission and make a donation to help us deliver your expressions of love to God's children all over the world.
Your continued support and compassion through IOCC will extend God's presence through projects that provide sustainable sources of food for impoverished families, a warm blanket for refugees, or the opportunity for a young child to learn and grow.
Together, we can achieve our vision of responding to those in need, to enable them to continue to improve their own lives and communities.
Please donate today at our Website. Your gift will make a difference in the world.
Yours in Christ,
Constantine M. Triantafilou
Executive Director and CEO
In his professional life, Kory Warr is a commercial real estate developer. As an Antiochian Orthodox Christian, he has served terms as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Antiochian Archdiocese, and as a Board member for St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary. He is a member of St. Elijah Antiochian Orthodox Church in Oklahoma City, OK, and is currently the chairman of the Board of Trustees for Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry. Antiochian.org recently had the opportunity to ask him about his outreach to prisoners, and what motivates him to minister to the incarcerated.
Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you first become interested in prison ministry?
I got involved in prison ministry in 2005. Prior to that, if I had made a list of things I might have wanted to do as a layman in the Church, prison ministry would have been at the very bottom—prison ministry was literally the last thing I wanted to do. However, my bishop, Bishop Basil of Wichita, asked me to participate in a working group whose task it was to begin to shape the prison ministry of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America into the official prison ministry of SCOBA (now the Assembly of Bishops).
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — Just four days after the most powerful tropical storm ever to make landfall blasted across the Philippines with wind speeds up to 195 miles per hour, the country is faced with the devastating loss of thousands of lives and millions of survivors across 41 provinces in a desperate search for food, water and shelter.
International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) emergency response personnel are assessing the urgent humanitarian needs for victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which has left a trail of destruction affecting an estimated 9.8 million people in the Philippines. IOCC, an ACT Alliance member, is in communication with the Orthodox Christian Churches and ecumenical partners of the ACT Alliance member agencies on the ground to identify the most effective and appropriate responses to the catastrophe. Supported relief activities include shelter repair and cleaning up of debris through cash for work programs in the country, as well as the distribution of relief items such as clothing and hygiene kits. The need for emergency hygiene kits is especially great. Instructions on organizing a kit assembly drive can be found on the IOCC Website.
In September 2013, the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS) North America launched an extensive back-to-school program in 28 cities across the country, providing new shoes, backpacks, and school supplies to 193,000 children from homeless and working poor families. One aspect of this program, "Operation Lace Up," provides shoes for needy kids, and recently San Diego's Channel 6 reported on the NFL San Diego Charger players as they participated in the FOCUS-sponsored program at a local distribution center.
"We are equipping and preparing the poorest children in the country at a time when they are the most vulnerable—on their first day of school," says program manager and FOCUS Orange County Center Director Jacob Lee. "FOCUS' distributions will insure that children have the basic provisions they need to attend and participate in school."
In the meantime, St. Herman's Orthodox House of Hospitality (FOCUS, Cleveland) hosted "An Evening with Fr. Thomas Hopko" on November 4, 2013. One of the highlights of the evening was a video introducing the ministry, featuring Director Paul Finley and several of the men served by the House of Hospitality.
This story was originally published in July 2013 on the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM) Website. The Rev. Stephen Powley, a priest in the Antiochian Archdiocese, is the Assistant Director of OCPM. Many other Antiochian Orthodox Christians are involved in OCPM, including Board of Trustees Chairman Kory Warr.
Antiochian priest Fr. Stephen Powley can laugh about it now. At the time, his early encounters with Clark Porter weren't funny. Father Stephen was a prison chaplain; Clark was serving a sentence for robbing a federal post office. "I used to dread walking down Clark's range," Fr. Stephen says, referring to his weekly visits. "I knew he would be livid with me and would cuss me out, I just didn't know why."
Clark admits he was an angry man when Fr. Stephen met him. Though it wasn't yet obvious, he was trying to change, to turn around a young life that had gotten a troubled start. The sixth of seven children, he was raised first by his mother, then his grandmother, and then put into foster care at age eight.
The Orthodox Christian Mission Center's 2014 mission team opportunities are now available! All Orthodox Christians seeking to share in a journey of faith and fulfill the mandate of our Lord Jesus Christ are invited to participate on teams, which will focus on:
Offer a living witness of Orthodoxy through evangelism, religious education, seminars, Bible studies, and retreats. Share the Orthodox Faith with youth, adults, catechumens, clergy, ministry leaders, and the faithful. Clergy, students, teachers, seminarians, youth leaders, Sunday school teachers, and Bible study leaders are urged to apply.
Preach the Gospel of Christ through evangelism in cross-cultural environments, offering the opportunity to hear and embrace the Good News. Live as Orthodox witnesses so others may come to know the saving love of Christ.
A ministry supported by the Order of St. Ignatius and many individual Antiochian parishes, Project Mexico and St. Innocent Orphanage have opened registration for their popular summer Home Building Work Trips. The Website explains, "We host two types of home building groups each summer: small groups and Orthodox Basic Training (OBT) groups. During our small group weeks, teams from one, two, or three parishes construct a single home for a needy family, spend the afternoons interacting with the boys of St. Innocent's, and experience the local culture with a trip into Rosarito. During OBT weeks, we host larger groups who construct between four to seven homes in one week, we have speakers each evening who present on a variety of topics, and on Sunday we have a day of fellowship and fun at St. Innocent's."
On October 14, 2013, Ancient Faith Radio (AFR), in its program "Ancient Faith Presents," released a podcast interview with IOCC Director of Programs Mark Ohanian in which the Director discusses the difficulties faced by Syria's swelling refugee population. IOCC is supporting one of the largest established efforts to provide aid to Syrians torn by civil war, and is one of the only international operations on the ground in Syria, working closely with His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch. There are 1.8 million refugees who now live in the countries surrounding Syria.
"I was in the region about 2 weeks ago," notes Mr. Ohanian in the interview. "The most obvious thing I saw is that the needs are growing and becoming greater. This is a kind of conflict where there is no end in sight, and there's a constant flow of people who are avoiding conflict areas, migrating within Syria to safer areas, or leaving to a neighboring country.
"This humanitarian catastrophe and the need for resources are far, far greater than what we at IOCC have in place," he continues. "It is stretching everyone's capacities and the needs are unimaginable. We have not seen a scale of this kind of need since...arguably, the Second World War. Almost one third of the Syrian population is in need of assistance."