Articles on Orthodox Christian Charity
The Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS) recently opened the FOCUS + Pittsburgh Free Health Center. The Center provides free, quality physical and mental health care as well as pharmaceutical and laboratory services to uninsured individuals. Patients are seen by Orthodox physicians and health care providers who volunteer their time. The Center specifically targets and serves people who fall through the gaps in today's health care system: those who don't qualify for government assistance and/or those who don't have employer-sponsored health insurance.
The FOCUS + Pittsburgh Free Health Center is the first fully-accredited Orthodox health center in the United States. Using this model, FOCUS hopes to launch more health centers in areas where Orthodox physicians are available to donate their time and skills to serve the uninsured and working poor. A church hall, Sunday school rooms, an office—any of these can double as a health center in a community, on a weekly or monthly basis. Medical malpractice liability protection under the FOCUS model is provided by the federal government and the Federal Tort Claims Act at no charge, to any physician or medical staffer serving at a FOCUS clinic. Details are available on the Free Health Center's Information page.
The International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) continues to alleviate the suffering caused by the ongoing strife in the Middle East, both in the new conflict that has arisen in Gaza, and in Syria, where people have lived for several years under civil war. (Donate through the IOCC's online portal.)
In the Gaza Strip, the most intense violence in nearly two years has claimed over 100 lives, including 23 children, injured more than 800 people, leaving families with damaged and destroyed homes. IOCC representatives are assessing the emerging humanitarian needs of those caught in the conflict, notes the article "IOCC Mobilizes to Provide Urgent Relief for Families Caught in Gaza Conflict."
An article about malnourished Syrian children in Lebanon's refugee camps notes that "since January, IOCC has screened more than 13,000 Syrian refugee children for malnutrition and provided treatment to those in need of emergency nutrition. IOCC's health workers are also taking preventive measures with new mothers...by counseling them on the importance of emergency nutrition and breastfeeding for their young children."
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — In the second half of the month of June, 2014, rivers across the Midwest surged over their banks, flooding cities and sweeping away summer crops as they failed to contain record summer rains that fell during the early summer. Floodwaters engulfed much of Minnesota, including Minneapolis and St. Paul, in some of the worst flooding in decades. The state's governor declared a state of emergency as homes and businesses as well as vast stretches of farmland across 35 counties were submerged under several feet of water.
International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) mobilized to respond to the emergency needs of flood survivors in the region. IOCC Emergency Response Network volunteers as well as the local Orthodox Christian community sprang into action, with more than a dozen teens and adults from St. Mary's Greek Orthodox Church in Minneapolis traveling to Rock Rapids to roll up their sleeves and help clear out waterlogged debris from flooded homes.
The IOCC is on the scene, helping the victims of disasters in the United States, like the Midwest floods. The United States Emergency Response Fund provides immediate relief as well as long-term support through the provision of emergency aid, recovery assistance and other support to help those in need.
Read more at IOCC's website.
On May 29, 2014, Ancient Faith Radio (AFR) released a podcast in their "Ancient Faith Presents" series titled "Tragedy in Isla Vista, California." The program features Antiochian priest Fr. John Finley in an interview he conducted with fellow clergy member Archpriest Jon-Stephen Hedges. Father Jon directs the St. Brigid Fellowship, a ministry started by St. Athanasius Orthodox Church, an Antiochian parish in Santa Barbara, CA. He is also a chaplain with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department, and in the interview Fr. Jon discusses with Fr. John Finley his role on the scene at the sites of the recent string of murders in Isla Vista, California.
"We Christians are amphibians-that is, we live in two kingdoms," notes Fr. Jon. "Sometimes we would like to stay in the altar...but when we go forth, we go forth with the scent of heaven. We don't go forth for the privileged or for those who are strong and well. We go forth for those who are broken."
May 16, 2014
Watch the full report on This Week in Orthodoxy, Orthodox Christian Network (OCN)
A broad array of American Christian leaders joined together on Capitol Hill on May 7 to issue a "pledge of solidarity and call to action" on behalf of the suffering churches of Egypt, Iraq, and Syria.
OCN's Executive Director, Fr. Christopher Metropulos, was among the more than 180 Christian leaders who signed the call to action and attended the event. Other Orthodox signatories included Fr. Nathanael Symeonides, Director of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese's Office of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations; Martin Ritsi of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC); and Dr. Elizabeth Prodromou, assistant professor in the Department of International Relations at Boston University, among others.
The statement and press conference were organized by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), co-chairs of the bipartisan Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus.
The Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) announces that there are still openings available for its 2014 Mission Teams. Two teams will be traveling to Lokichar, Kenya this summer to assist with the construction of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church. When completed, this will be the third permanent church in the Turkana region of Kenya that the faithful of North America have sponsored through the OCMC. The first 2014 team will serve from June 17th to July 1st and the second from June 24th to July 11th.
In another opportunity, the OCMC Orthodox Mission Team to Mexico will be laboring at the Mission of San Esteban the first Martyr, outside of Mexico City. This team has been invited to offer youth and adult catechism, and to be part of the life of the Church in Mexico. This is a unique opportunity to engage the faithful of Mexico, share your Faith and be a part of a Christian witness. The dates are July 5 to July 12, 2014. Participants with experience in youth ministry and catechism are urged to apply. Conversational Spanish-speaking ability is recommended.
The International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) ministers in the United States with emergency response, community development, and supporting literacy and education. Two recent stories are a reminder of this.
Religious leaders gathered at the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Chicago to dedicate more than 10,000 new books provided by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). The trove of colorful, age-appropriate reading materials will benefit thousands of schoolchildren participating in after-school enrichment opportunities, mentoring and summer learning programs in the Chicago area. The leaders were joined by wide-eyed youngsters from some of the city's most impoverished Southside neighborhoods who were grateful beneficiaries.
In partnership with Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM), Ancient Faith Radio is bringing back the paperback edition of the Orthodox Study Bible New Testament and Psalms. This Bible, which has been out of print for two years, is in high demand among those who prefer a more affordable Orthodox Study Bible and those who serve America's prison population, because the majority of state and federal prisons will not allow inmates to have hardback books/Bibles.
"Recently, OCPM was only able to send 231 Bibles to those in prison because we were out of stock, yet our demand was much greater" said Chaplain Patrick Tutella, Executive Director of OCPM.
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Together with our Orthodox brethren, Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry reflects on the legacy of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip. He was instrumental in the development and growth of OCPM and has always been close to our hearts.
When OCPM Founder Fr Duane Pederson was ordained into the Orthodox Church in 1991, he had already been active in prison ministry for more than 25 years. It was with the blessing of Metropolitan Philip that Fr Duane continued to work in prison ministry after his ordination. "Usually you're ordained to an altar, to a parish," said Fr Duane. Yet His Eminence ordained Fr Duane to continue ministering to people in prison and on the streets. "His Eminence had the foresight to step out and include the incarcerated as part of the Church."
It was with Metropolitan Philip's blessing that men in prison were catechized. The Virginia H. Farah Foundation played a timely role by funding the costs of Orthodox books and icon cards that were sent into prisons. As a result, said Fr Duane, "All these prisoners started to become Orthodox. We began to find cradle Orthodox who had been hiding in the prisons as well."
Seeing that there were men in prison who wanted to be received into the Church, Metropolitan Philip gave Fr Duane a parish-one without walls-and named it Holy Apostle Silas. He gave Fr Duane an antimins (a consecrated altar cloth necessary for celebrating the Eucharist) to use when celebrating the liturgy in prisons. With his new parish Fr Duane was able to baptize men in prison. "His Eminence was willing to care for those who had no parish," said Fr Duane.
The Website LevantReport.com with Managing Editor Brad Hoff published an interview on March 5, 2014 with The Very Rev. Joseph Huneycutt, pastor of the St. Joseph Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Houston, TX. Titled "Syrian Christians in a Time of Conflict," the interview comes over two years after Fr. Joseph traveled to Syria as part of an official delegation of American Antiochian Christian pastors and leaders sent to assess the situation of Syria's Christians.
In December, St. Joseph in Houston sponsored a benefit concert, "Hope, Humanity, Healing," which raised $18,000.00. The proceeds were distributed to the suffering Syrian people through the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America's Sister Diocese of Bosra-Hauran, Jabal al-Arab, and the Golan in southern Syria, as well as through the St. Gregory Orthodox Society for the Elderly and Orphans in Damascus. In the interview, Fr. Joseph soberly notes that "...the Christian presence in southern Syria has diminished, the charitable support of refugees continues; those who remain live in danger every moment. It will take heroic hard work to rebuild – the land and the people – once this war comes to an end." Read the full text of the interview