Diocese of Charleston News


Bishop Thomas Pays Pastoral Visit to St. Tikhon's Seminary

His Grace Bishop Thomas of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic, paid a special visit to the community at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary (STOTS) on Tuesday, November 18, 2014. His Grace has been a long-time supporter of St. Tikhon's, and came to meet with the students as well as to meet with STOTS Dean The Very Rev. Dr. Steven Voytovich.

His Grace toured the Seminary and Monastery grounds, and spoke to students during the lunch hour. "I always enjoy coming to St. Tikhon's because every time I visit I see people who are filled with joy," he commented. He also reminded those assembled of the importance of remaining joyful, and asked that they bring that same virtue out into the world as they minister to others for Christ.

(Sourced from Stots.edu—view the original story and more photographs.

Nativity Greetings from Bishop Thomas

NATIVITY OF CHRIST 2014

Beloved in Christ,

Greetings in the name of our incarnate God and Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ!

Let us strive to comprehend the mystery. The reason God is in the flesh is to kill the death that lurks there. As diseases are cured by medicines and assimilated by the body, and as darkness in a house is dispelled by the coming of light, so death, which held sway over human nature, is done away with by the coming of God. And as ice formed on water covers its surface as long as night and darkness last but melts under the warmth of the sun, so death reigned until the coming of Christ; but when the grace of God our Saviour appeared and the Sun of Justice rose, death was swallowed up in victory, unable to bear the presence of true life. How great is God's goodness, how deep his love for us!
– St. Basil the Great, Homily II on the Nativity of Christ

We rejoice in the coming of our God in the flesh precisely because He has come to do battle with death and to kill it. In these words of St. Basil, we see how great is the blessing and goodness of God to us, that He Himself would come and expel the darkness of our souls, cure the diseases that sicken our human nature, and set us on the path to resurrection. He Himself entered into humanity so that His power and love could conquer the corruption that had infected us.

This is why we celebrate Christmas. We are not only celebrating that God came to dwell among us. We are celebrating His coming because of what He came to do. He came to save us from death by destroying its power forever by uniting our humanity to His divinity. And so we will ever sing of His glory and His compassion for mankind.

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

Yours in Christ,

Rt. Rev. Bishop THOMAS (Joseph)
Auxiliary Bishop, Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic

Registration Opens: February 2015 College Lenten Retreat

Come enjoy a weekend of spiritual retreat and fellowship with other Orthodox Christian college students. We will have discussions, daily services, and conclude the weekend by celebrating Sunday of Orthodoxy together! Registration is now open!

  • Please register online at www.avcamp.org
  • Cost is $95, including all meals, lodging, and activities, to be held at the Camp (bring own bed linens/sleeping bag, pillow, towels, and toiletries)
  • If you have questions, please e-mail Chris Shadid at chris@antiochianvillage.org or call the camp office at 724-238-9565, ext. 505 
  • Download the flyer

Bishop Thomas Visits St. Andrew Church + Lewes, DE

The mission community of St. Andrew the Apostle and Fr. Boniface Black welcomed His Grace Bishop Thomas for the 2014 feast of the Dormition and following Sunday in comfortable and beautiful August summer weather.

The visit began with Vespers on Thursday evening, August 14th, and continued with Orthros and Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on the Feast Day. Saturday Vespers and Sunday Orthros and Hierarchical Divine Liturgy rounded out a very blessed time of worship and Christian fellowship. All services were very well attended. Many summer visitors joined with parishioners for the Church Services and bountiful meals following, provided by the Antiochian Women of St. Andrew.

Middle School Winter Retreat at Antiochian Village

Registration is open for the annual St. Herman Middle School Retreat, convening at Antiochian Village on the feast day of St. Herman of Alaska.

  • Who: Students in grades 5-8
  • Where: Antiochian Village Conference Center, December 12-14, 2014
  • What: interactive presentations and discussions, weekend liturgical services (with an outdoor supplication service to St. Herman), games, crafts, meals and snacks, sledding, geocaching, stargazing, guided night hike, a campfire
  • Why: The distraction-free environment of the Village and the spiritual emphasis of the retreat offer a wonderful opportunity for middle schoolers to focus on their faith 
  • How much:  $100/person for lodging and meals; $120 if postmarked after November 15  
  • Download the registration form
  • Download the Consent Form
  • Visit the Antiochian Village's website

Orthodox Christian Camp and Youth Worker Conference: January 22-24, 2015

The 2015 Orthodox Christian Camp and Youth Worker Conference, with the theme "Walking Alongside our Youth," will be held at Antiochian Village on January 22-24. The Conference, now in its 13th year, exists to bring all Orthodox Christians doing youth ministry at any level and in any form together for several days to further their education, foster brotherhood, and provide fellowship.  Each year a different jurisdiction of the Orthodox Churches in the United States hosts the Conference, with the input and direction provided by the Orthodox Christian Camp Association and national Church Youth Department directors.

Keynote Addresses will be offered by The Rev. Dr. Bogdan Bucur, associate professor of Theology at Duquesne University, and Dr. Stefanie Yazge, professor of Theology at St. Vincent College. A series of workshops focusing on youth ministry as it relates to youth workers and camp staff, daily services, and fellowship, will be available to enable attendees to get to know each other better.

Registration is available online and an early-bird discount is offered through December 15, 2014.

 

St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church, Wilkes-Barre, PA Celebrates 110 Years

The 110th anniversary of St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church in Wilkes-Barre, PA was celebrated over the weekend of October 10-12, 2014. 

For the weekend Bishop Thomas presided over all of the events. On Friday morning the parish had the funeral of the oldest parishioner, Lorraine George, who was 98. Bishop Thomas arrived before to be able to serve the funeral.

On Friday evening there was a potluck dinner to which the parishioners brought many different kinds of delicious fast-day foods.  

On Saturday, Bishop Thomas went to visit his family’s restaurant in Wilkes-Barre and enjoy hot dogs and hamburgers from Abe’s Restaurant on Main Street. He reminisced there about his family during the meal. (View the photo gallery of the festive weekend.)

Bishop Thomas Visits St. George Church + Upper Darby, PA

Bishop Thomas Visits St. George Church + Upper Darby, PADuring the weekend of October 3 – 5, 2014, the faithful of St. George Church in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania were blessed with the annual pastoral visit of His Grace Bishop Thomas. The events of the weekend began on Friday evening with the local Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) chapters gathering for a falafel dinner and discussion with Bishop Thomas. Students came from three of the Philadelphia area OCFs: Drexel/UPenn, Eastern and Temple. After a delicious meal the students talked with His Grace about his own travels and work as the chair of the Assembly of Bishops Committee on Youth, as well as the particular struggles facing young people today with the increasing media and technology impact on life.

Bishop John Leads Clergy Retreat

From September 30 to October 3, 2014, over two dozen priests from the diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic and the diocese of New York and Washington met at the Antiochian Village for a clergy retreat led by His Grace Bishop John. There were lectures and discussion groups in addition to the Divine Services.

Bishop John opened the retreat with a session about the role of a pastor in the solving of problems found in parishes. Questions such as: What is my role? What is appropriate? Who are we ministering to (or who do we need to minister to)? What are my boundaries? What are my obligations? Am I competent here? What is the will of God here?

Blessed Name's Day to Bishop Thomas!

His Grace Bishop Thomas' namesday is October 6, Thomas the Apostle of the Twelve. Many years, Master!

Read Notes from Bishop Thomas

Read about St. Thomas the Apostle

Thomas, the faithful servant and disciple of Christ, filled with divine grace, cried out from the depth of his love: "You are my Lord and my God!"

Kontakion — Tone 4

Just Around the Corner: St. Thekla & St. Raphael Pilgrimage, Sept. 26-28

Download the Pilgrimage brochure and registration form

Registration is open for the Annual St. Thekla & St. Raphael Pilgrimage, with His Grace Bishop Thomas of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic presiding. Lodging for both adults and children is available for the weekend, which is an annual event at the Antiochian Village Conference Center and camp in Bolivar, PA.

"Did you know that the Antiochian Village is one of the few places places in the United States where you can visit the grave and shrine of a saint of the Church?" notes Bishop Thomas. Saint Raphael of Brooklyn, the first Orthodox bishop to be consecrated in the United States, reposed in the Lord in 1915 and was later canonized by the Orthodox Church in America in 2000. Appropriately, since St. Raphael is buried on the grounds of Antiochian Village, the pilgrimage includes a Service of Supplication to him. Other activities include small group workshops, a panel discussion with Bishop Thomas, a special movie showing, and the full cycle of liturgical services.

Diocese of Charleston Deacons Retreat and Clergy Synaxis

Deacons Retreat
September 26-28, 2014
In conjunction with the St. Thekla & St. Raphael Pilgrimage
Open to all deacons in the Mid-Atlantic Diocese
Speaker: Archdeacon David Khoury from St. Nicholas Church in Grand Rapids, MI
For more information, contact Dn. Peter Maris: peter@pgmaris.com

Clergy Synaxis (Retreat)
September 30-October 3, 2014
Open to all clergy in the Mid-Atlantic Diocese
Speaker: His Grace Bishop John (Abdalah) of the New England Diocese
Download schedule (PDF)
Download registration form (PDF)
For more information, contact Fr. Anthony Yazge: franthony@antiochianvillage.org

St. Patrick Orthodox Church Rebuilds after Fire

A new home for the parishioners of St. Patrick Orthodox Church in Warrenton, VA, demonstrates that fresh beginnings can arise out of tragedy. Two years ago when their new church building burned to the ground before the parish even had a chance to move in, Fr. Patrick Cardine said that the community didn't ask "why?" but "what now?"

"The congregation of St. Patrick Orthodox Church had spent about $80,000" on the original building, Fr. Patrick Cardine explained to the Fauquier Now reporter who covered the story of the blaze in 2012. Later, the community of St. Patrick learned that an arsonist had set the fire. Undeterred, the priest and parish set out to rebuild, aided by generous contributions from members of the community and the Orthodox SICA Foundation. 

The new building will be fireproof, and larger than the original structure. "It's going to be a very interesting building," says Fr. Patrick, adding that it might be finished sometime in the fall of this year.

Read an article from the Wednesday, August 27, 2014 edition of the Fauquier Times.

 

New Book by Popular Antiochian Author: An Introduction to God

Antiochian Orthodox priest Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick, rector of St. Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church in Emmaus, PA, has released a new book with Ancient Faith Publishing titled An Introduction to God. In his book, the author of Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy author and Roads From Emmaus podcaster speaks to non-believers and Christians about creating "a sacred space in which we can encounter God.

The book's description explains that Fr. Andrew's goal is to explain to a new generation what is "...the essence of the traditional Christian faith, addressing the fundamental mysteries of where God is, who God is, why we go to church, and why Christian morality matters."

In an interview with Holy Trinity Bookstore, Fr. Damick comments that as a priest, " I've met many folks who don't come to church or are perhaps not very engaged in church not because they are in rebellion against God but because they just don't see the point. Most of the time, no one ever really tried to explain it to them."

Over 500 Attend Parish Life Conference at the Village

Read more reports and view more photos at the St. George Orthodox Church Website

Over 500 faithful from the Eastern Dioceses of New York and Washington, D.C. and Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic participated in the historic 2014 Parish Life Conference (PLC).  Held at the Antiochian Village (AV) in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, it was a testament to the vision of Metropolitan Philip, who founded AV to foster fellowship and spiritual growth in the Orthodox faith. The grace of the Holy Spirit emanated throughout the conference, which was focused on the theme of loving God and neighbor, and was hosted by St. George Orthodox Christian Church of New Kensington, PA, with Fr. Meletios Zafaran.

Participants at the PLC had the unique opportunity to pray at the gravesites of St. Raphael and Metropolitan Philip.  Father Anthony Yazge, the AV host priest and camp director, guided the group on an uplifting tour of the St. Raphael and St. Thekla shrines, and led a Supplication Service to St. Raphael.

Two Missions to be Established in PA and MD

His Grace Bishop Thomas announces two new mission parishes being formed in the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic. 

Beloved in Christ,

The Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic, of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, is pleased to announce that we are beginning to establish two new missions.

The first is a mission station in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For information about this mission endeavor, you should contact Paul Abernathy (p.abernathy12@gmail.com; 412-334-0917).

A second mission endeavor is being attempted in Talbot County, Maryland. An advertisement offers information about our first meeting, which I plan to attend.

I would appreciate it very much if those of you who are on the East Coast would regularly remind your faithful about both these movements. Those of you who are not in this area, but know people who might live in or travel to this area, please pass this information on.

Camp Photos from Antiochian Village

Antiochian Village Camp has compiled a collection of summer camp photos at www.avcamp.org/memories. Photo prints are available for purchas at avcamp.smugmug.com/Antiochian-Village-Photos-2014, or photos and DVDs are available via Antiochian Village by downloading and returning the order form (PDF).

Summer 2015 Camp staff:

FOCUS Opens Free Health Center in Pittsburgh, PA

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.

 

Bishop Thomas Encourages Educational Opportunities

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Beloved in Christ,

God bless you!

I would like to make you aware, if you are not already, of several opportunities for us and our young people to become more educated in the Orthodox Christian faith or in an Orthodox environment. Please pass these on to your own diocesan, parish and other mailing lists as you see fit:

1. The proposed Institute for Orthodox Thought and Culture at Eastern University

A fully accredited undergraduate education with a broad range of majors and also including a minor in Orthodox Thought and Culture in its Arabic, Greek and Slavic iterations. Also included will be liturgical and community life. Be sure to fill out the survey and encourage others to do so. It is also on Facebook

Institute for Orthodox Christian Thought and Culture at Eastern University

Dr. Gary Jenkins, a member of St. Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church in Emmaus, PA, has been teaching history at Eastern University in the greater Philadelphia area, for 20 years.

Lately, he's been feeling called to do something even bigger. After much prayer and consultation with hierarchs and clergy throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, he has proposed the creation of an Institute for Orthodox Christian Thought and Culture at Eastern University.

Eastern is a fully accredited, Christian university with 35 majors and about 1,500 undergraduate students on its beautiful campus in suburban Philadelphia.

The proposed Institute would offer a minor for Orthodox students and serve as a hub for their spiritual, academic, and professional development.

Spotlight: Educational Opportunities at Balamand Seminary

His Grace Bishop Thomas, Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic, encourages the faithful of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America to explore the possibilities of the educational opportunities that exist at the Balamand Seminary and the University of Balamand. "This is a multi-purpose institution," notes His Grace. "Here are some links that you and your high school and college students might want to take a look at. I was very impressed when I visited the University. In addition to Theology, there are a number of areas that can be studied the Balamand. The links that are provided here will familiarize you with everything the University has to offer.

Heritage Museum Exhibits Feature Women Artists

Exhibits highlighting the work of two remarkable women artists recently opened at the Antiochian Heritage Museum at Antiochian Village. In Women with Icons: Photographs, by Jocelyn Mathewes, the beauty and meaning of iconography is explored through a series of portraits of women posed with icons of their patron saints. (Selected portraits can be viewed online.) Vibrant, colorful paintings and textile work are showcased in Eternal Spring: The Art of Leila Chokheli, an exhibit that celebrates the abiding faith and joy of an artist who lived for decades under oppressive Communist rule in the Republic of Georgia. 

The two exhibits are open until February, 2015. Contact the Village's Director of Sales Barli Ross at 724-238-3677, ext. 426, to arrange an overnight package or a luncheon; view photographs and read more about the artists in the June 2014 edition of The Word magazine.

Parish Life Conference Season Begins with a Splash

The first two Parish Life Conferences (or PLCs) for the Antiochian Archdiocese have kicked off the summer PLC season with a splash! From June 11-14 in San Antonio, Texas, host parish St. Ephraim the Syrian Antiochian Church is overseeing a lineup of events for attendees from the Diocese of Wichita, including talks by Keynote Speaker Sister Vassa Larin, as well as excursions to local attractions such as the River Walk and Sea World San Antonio. Also enjoying water access are the faithful of the Diocese of Miami, who are being hosted on June 11-15 by the St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church of Orlando at the Crown Plaza Hotel, with its proximity to lakes and the Atlantic coast. 

Time for Camp! Follow Antiochian Village's Updates

Beginning Sunday, June 15, 2014, Antiochian Village Summer Camp in Bolivar, Pennsylvania begins its summer-long camping program for kids age 9-18. Since 1978, the mission of the Camp has been to promote the faith of the Orthodox Church through ministry to the youth. The Village has been a "holy mountain" wherein campers form lifelong friendships and grow stronger as Christians. 

Is your child going to Antiochian Village this summer? Are you an alumnus longing to vicariously enter into this year's camping season? Visit the Village's Facebook page for introductions to counselors, highlights of each session, and other features, or view all the new photos as they are uploaded to the Village's photo site. A complete list of camps within the Antiochian Archdiocese is available on the Department of Camping page.

 

July 18-20, 2014: Summer Meetings at Antiochian Village

With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Silouan of Buenos Aires and all Argentina, the patriarchal vicar of New York and all North America, the 2014 Archdiocese Summer Meetings will be hosted at the Antiochian Village, July 18-20, 2014. The Archdiocese and diocese officers of the Antiochian Women, Fellowship of St. John Divine, and Teen SOYO, will gather for their annual summer meetings to conduct the business of the Archdiocese organizations.

In addition, the Archdiocese Bible Bowl and Oratorical Festivals will be held during the weekend with participants from each diocese. Please contact your NAC/NAB President if you have any questions.

Information for the Summer Meetings is as follows: