Articles on Orthodox Christian Charity
The Orthodox Christian Fellowship's (OCF) Real Break program provides an alternative spring break for Orthodox college students across North America. This year, more than 50 students from 36 universities participated in the six service projects around the world in locations such as Constantinople, Mexico, Guatemala, Romania and Texas. This following OCF report summarizes the impact of Real Break, 2012.
As the week was coming to an end and all sat in the dining hall eating the typical meal of beans and tortillas, University of Illinois freshman, Anthony Jonas, notices Brayan with a sad face and not touching his food. Jesus Brayan is one of the 31 young boys living at the St. Innocent Orphanage in Rosarito, Mexico. Anthony says to him,
“¿Qué paso Brayan?” (What’s wrong Brayan?)
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and South America has designated May 20 as Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday. Antiochian Archdiocese member Kory Warr is Chairman of the Board for the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM). He explains: "The sixth Sunday of Pascha was selected as Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday because the prescribed epistle reading (Acts 16:16-34) describes the experience of Sts. Paul and Silas in a Philippian jail. This story is a clear reminder of the truth that the light of Christ shines in even the darkest of places, pouring forth healing and salvation. All of us who participate in the work of OCPM have, like Paul and Silas, encountered the transforming grace and power of God in places where despair and hopelessness seemed to have erected impregnable strongholds.
(Baltimore, MD) — International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), the global humanitarian relief organization of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, has named five prominent Orthodox community leaders as the recipients of its Compassion at Work Award: Antiochians Charles R. Ajalat and Dr. George J. Farha, as well as Andrew A. Athens, George M. Marcus, and John G. Rangos, Sr.
The five visionary men were selected to receive the inaugural award for their extraordinary philanthropic contributions to the organization's mission and its continued success over the past 20 years.
In announcing the recipients, IOCC Board Chairman, Michael S. "Mickey" Homsey said, "As International Orthodox Christian Charities celebrates 20 years of delivering humanitarian service to those in need around the world, it owes a debt of gratitude to these men whose faith and philanthropic spirit served as the catalyst in developing IOCC as the humanitarian arm of the Orthodox Church in North America and as a unified ministry for the Orthodox community to express its faith in compassionate and tangible ways."
Three of the five award recipients, John G. Rangos, Sr., Andrew A. Athens and Charles R. Ajalat, founded the organization in 1992 and all five men, including George M. Marcus and Dr. George J. Farha, have served on the IOCC Board of Directors and are honorary IOCC board members.
The honorees will be recognized at the IOCC 20th Anniversary Gala on May 8, 2012, in Washington, DC. Mike Emanuel, Chief Congressional Correspondent for FOX News Channel, will serve as emcee for the gala, and Chris Hillman, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and founding member of the Byrds, will perform during the gala dinner.
Across the United States and Canada, mission team participants with the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) are gearing up for a summer of activity and ministry. Fourteen teams, each with a different purpose, will serve in ten different countries during the second half of 2012.
Roberta Sardell, a member of St. Stephen Antiochian Orthodox Church in Campbell, California, has participated in three mission trips. "In 2008 I was in Alaska, chiefly in an isolated village called Tatitlak on Prince William Sound, snowed in, in October," she explains. "In September of 2009 I helped lead retreats in Romania, touring monasteries and the painted churches of Bucovina. July of 2011 found me in the heat of Lodwar, northeastern Kenya. In each case I was blessed with talented Christian team mates; I was blessed meeting Orthodox brothers and sisters in other countries. I went as a teacher, a catechist, but I was educated in different cultures, different lifestyles, and how the Holy Spirit convicts people around the world."
More than 150 dental procedures were performed this month as part of a new FOCUS dental care initiative in Orange County, California. Working in partnership with the University of Southern California (USC) School of Dentistry and AYUDA, an international organization that provides dental care to underserved communities, FOCUS volunteers provided vital dental care, free of charge, to patients of all ages.
The services included teeth cleanings, fluoride treatments, fillings, and extractions. Each patient also received instruction on how to practice and maintain proper oral hygiene.
“This partnership with AYUDA and USC was a great success,” said FOCUS Center Director Jacob Lee. “We’re really pleased to provide this service to families who live in motels. Good dental health is absolutely critical to overall well being.”
Youth Equipped to Serve (YES), a ministry of FOCUS North America, hosted a YES Weekend in Oklahoma City on March 9-11, and now is kicking off another weekend of service in the city of St. Louis starting March 30. As the website explains, the YES program "provides opportunities for junior high and high school students to participate in formative weekends of service, with the ultimate purpose being to raise up a generation of Orthodox Christians who lead others in living out the true mission of the church- to love and serve our most needy neighbors."
The St. Louis weekend is a good example of a typical YES trip. Teens will meet at the local FOCUS Center--Gateway City/St. Michael’s--on Friday, stay overnight at Huckleberry Finn Youth Hostel, participate in service events throughout the weekend, and finish the trip by serving a meal for the homeless back at the FOCUS location.
Upcoming events include YES Atlanta on April 20-22, YES Grand Rapids on May 11-13, and YES Leadership Training on June 13-18 in Los Angeles' Skid Row.
Ten years ago, five determined and dedicated IOCC supporters cycled their way across the U.S. to celebrate IOCC's tenth anniversary of service providing humanitarian assistance worldwide. The Race to Respond riders raised funds for those in need and put IOCC on the map with the new Orthodox Christian supporters they encountered through cities and towns across California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.
Lead rider, Jim Angelus, is ready to repeat this feat and is seeking a crew chief to drive the pursuit vehicle and two cross-country cyclists to join him again in honor of IOCC's 20th anniversary of humanitarian service. This time, the cross-country route will take the cyclists along the northern tier of the country from Seattle, Washington, through Idaho, Montana, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, covering approximately 3,000 miles in 33 days.
TO BE READ FROM THE PULPIT AND PRINTED IN THE BULLETIN
Beloved Hierarchs, esteemed members of the Board of Trustees, members of our Archdiocesan Organizations and all faithful of our God Protected Archdiocese,
Greetings and blessings to you in the spirit of this Holy and Great Lent. I am certain that you have been following the tragic events in Syria from where many of us have originated. Besides our cultural and historical roots which are planted in Syria, Syria has a great spiritual significance to all of us and all Christians. Damascus is considered the most ancient city in the world. Syria and the entire Fertile Crescent gave the world its first known civilization.
Damascus is a holy city for us. It has been the center of our Patriarchate since the Patriarchate moved from Antioch. Our venerable Patriarch lives on the Straight Street where St. Paul walked to be baptized after his conversion to Christianity. (Acts 9:11)
St. Augustine, FL (OCMC) On March 19, 2012, the Orthodox Resurrection Health Centre became a registered health center in Bukoba, Tanzania. Originally opened as a hospital, the government shut it down in November of 2010, a month after the OCMC team arrived there to work, because they didn’t staff enough doctors. Unable to meet the requirements of a hospital, the Metropolis decided to register the facility as a Health Centre.
In November of 2011, KEDAS, the Greek Non-Governmental Organization that built the Health Centre, sent Giannis Dais to help the OCMC team get the clinic registered. With OCMC members Felice Stewart and Maria Roeber working to facilitate communication between the Metropolis and KEDAS and begin the administrative tasks necessary to prepare the center for operation, the clinic has finally gained registration.
Stewart says, “The building and grounds are beautiful. I have not seen anything this nice in this area. KEDAS has been very generous in providing equipment and supplies, and it is well outfitted.”
Now that the clinic is open, the next steps are to hire more staff to join the team.
In celebration of International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) two decades of faith-based humanitarian work, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Orthodox Christian, Chris Hillman, will perform at the organization's 20th Anniversary Gala on May 8, 2012, at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C.
Hillman, whose multi-faceted musical career spans five decades, gained popular recognition as a founding member of The Byrds, one of the most influential American rock bands of the 1960s. Their biggest hit song, "Turn, Turn, Turn," carries a message of peace and tolerance inspired by Biblical verses taken from the Book of Ecclesiastes. The song remains a rock classic and one of a few examples of scripture set to popular music.
Hillman's appearance at the Gala underscores his strong support of the philanthropic arm of the Orthodox Church. An evangelical Christian who came to know the Orthodox faith through his wife Connie, a Greek Orthodox Christian, he converted after a strong calling to explore Orthodoxy prompted him to speak to a priest and complete the holy sacrament of chrismation. Fifteen years later, he devotes much of his time and talent to supporting his church in Santa Barbara, California, and performing for Orthodox-based benefits like the IOCC 20th Anniversary Gala. "I feel as an Orthodox Christian that the talent God has given me now should be used to help the church and whatever I can do to generate interest to directly benefit those in need."