By Alex Goodwin
It is for the Glory of God and His Church that the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) is pleased to announce its acceptance of a grant totaling $650,000 awarded by an anonymous donor on June 10, 2010.
This two-year grant will completely retire the mortgage on the Archbishop Anastasios and Archbishop Demetrios Missionary Training and Administration Center in St. Augustine, Florida, which serves to administer the many ministries of OCMC and to train and equip mission workers from the United States for service around the world.
With this gift, OCMC will continue to develop its vibrant mission ministries which serve to extend the open arms of the Orthodox Christian Church to parts of the world that still long for the hope of salvation in Christ.
This significant contribution further illustrates the intent of Orthodox Christians in North America to make disciples of all nations.
Alistair Lyon, special correspondant for Reuters, has published this interesting analysis of Christians in Syria.
"Many Muslims feel they own the truth. Many Christians do too," said Mayssa Rumman, who runs a tiny, lovingly restored hotel in Bab Touma, a Christian quarter of the Old City.
"But we don't fight about it and it doesn't stop us from being neighbors or from working with each other," she said.
Syria's dwindling Christians coexist with their Muslim compatriots in a country many of them see as a safe haven, in a region where religious minorities often struggle for survival. ...
Syria remains a relatively benign place for Christians, who nevertheless fear any spillover of regional conflicts and the rise of Islamist movements that might restrict their freedoms.
Muslims and Christians enjoy equal rights here, apart from a constitutional stipulation that the president must be a Muslim.
At the Episcopal Assembly recently concluded in New York City on Friday, May 28, His Grace Bishop BASIL was elected Secretary of the Assembly. Reports His Grace, "I was nominated by Archbishop DEMETRIOS of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (Chair of the Episcopal Assembly), and Metropolitan PHILIP (First Vice-Chair of the Episcopal Assembly) seconded my nomination. I was then elected by acclamation by the 53 other bishops present at the Episcopal Assembly. I will head the Secretariat of the Episcopal Assembly which will be headquartered in the center of America's Heartland -- Wichita, Kansas."
By decision of the Assembly, all organizations and joint action projects such as International Orthodox Christian Charities which operate under SCOBA, will function now under the auspices of the Episcopal Assembly. Newly formed committees will meet at regular intervals to discuss issues of common interest to all Orthodox Christians.
The Missions Institute of Orthodox Christianity was established on April 29, 2010, at Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology with an initial endowment of one million dollars from EFOM (the Endowment Fund for Orthodox Missions). EFOM, a charity connected with the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was created in 1981 to honor the missions-minded ministry of the Reverend Alexander and Presbytera Pearl Veronis. The endowment was presented to the Reverend Nicholas Triantaﬁlou, President of HC/HC, by EFOM’s Board President, Mrs. Helen Nicozisis.
On presenting the check to the school, Mrs. Nicozisis noted that this gift came not from one major benefactor, but from many people who gave both small and large donations over many years. “All of these people,” she emphasized, “believe in the essential importance of cultivating the spirit of missions, especially among our seminarians and future clergy.”
By Andrew Lekos
Following classes and orientation led by Fr. Luke Veronis, Missionary Nathan Hoppe, and Fr. David Rucker, a Team of 2 priests and 11 seminarians arrived in Albania for two very full weeks of ministry and learning on Tuesday, May 25th. This Team is historic in several ways: It is the first joint Team of the newly inaugurated Missions Institute of Orthodox Christianity and OCMC. It is also the first Team jointly made up of students from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary and Holy Cross School of Theology. This is also the first fully accredited Team, offering three hours of seminary credit for the class work and time in Albania. The course will study in depth the life, missiology and writings of Archbishop Anastasios of Albania and examine how he has practically lived out this missiology through his ministry in the Church of Albania. The course will look at the foundation and calling of missions. The practicum includes the Team traveling to Albania, witnessing the resurrection of the Church of Albania, meeting missionaries and the indigenous leaders, and participating in an evangelism program within the country.
Please join OCMC and The Mission Institute of Orthodox Christianity in prayer for this historic Team to Albania. Support for this effort and the work of missions can be given on-line at www.ocmc.org.
Joanne Hakim, Administrator for The Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch, reports: "At the recent board of directors meeting in New York, the amount of dollars that The Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch contributed to camp scholarship was reported. A member of the board asked how many children were able to attend camp as a result of the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch’s contribution. The answer to that question follows:
'The Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch, as you know, contributes a significant portion (over 10%) of its annual revenue to our Camp Scholarship program. Beginning in 2009, we increased our commitment to $175,000 annually. Since inception the Order has contributed over $1,700,000 for scholarships to our camp children.'
However, what is most important is human lives impacted. For the 2010 camping season over 700 young people will receive scholarship assistance from The Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch. We thank all of our Orthodox brothers and sisters who have joined The Order and ask everyone in our Self-Ruled Archdiocese to consider joining. One new member = one new camper = one soul saved!"
Thirty graduate from St. Vladimir’s Seminary
[SVS Communications/Yonkers, NY] With jubilant ceremony, thirty seminarians from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary received their diplomas at Commencement exercises on Saturday, May 22, amid a throng of family, friends, and fellow classmates. Eager, hopeful, and grateful, the Class of 2010—among them 12 priests—celebrated the end of their formal studies and the beginning of a variety of ministries in service to the Orthodox Church in North America and abroad.
Highlights of the joyful day included the Valedictory address by Fr. Andrew Cuneo, and the Salutatory address by seminarian Michael Soroka. The seminary Board of Trustees also bestowed two honorary doctorates: one upon Mr. Albert Foundos, a member of the seminary’s Board; and the other upon His Grace, The Right Rev. Basil (Essey), bishop of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. Mr. Foundos gave the Commencement address titled “Where My Treasure Is.”
Please view the full story and gallery of Commencement 2010 photos here.
Much to the surprise of His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH, the faculty, trustees and students of St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary bestowed on Sayidna the Doctor of Divinity degree, honoris causa. In a gesture of brotherly love in Jesus Christ, His Grace, Bishop MICHAEL (outgoing seminary dean and now Bishop of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey, Orthodox Church in America) personally announced the award, recognizing Sayidna’s lifelong efforts to spread the Holy Gospel everywhere he has lived and shepherded. The honorary doctorate described Sayidna as a “loyal son of Antioch and devoted father in North America, illumined educator and patient shepherd, inspiring churchman and loving archpastor.” You can read the entire citation here.
Sayidna then had the honor and distinct pleasure of addressing the graduating class of 2010, their families and friends at the 68th Commencement exercises at St. Tikhon’s. At this institute of spiritual learning and refinement, Sayidna’s message centered on knowledge, but not the secular type that traps us in this world and deprives us from the life to come. Sayidna reminded the gathering that “the Theologian is one who prays.” His Grace’s message often cited that pillar of spiritual knowledge, the ecumenical teacher St. Basil the Great. Though this archbishop of Caesarea did not abhor secular learning, Sayidna quoted him as saying “the arrogance of philosophy has nothing in common with humility.”
Also, click here for a selection of articles on this historic gathering.
Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick, of St. Paul Antiochian Church of Emmaus, PA, has published his initial impressions of this week's North and Central American Episcopal Assembly, where he is present in an auxiliary role, on OrthodoxHistory.org.
It was a pretty hot day in Manhattan yesterday. Despite the discomfort, though, the Orthodox Christian hierarchy of North America seemed to be in pretty decent spirits.
I’m here in Manhattan at the 2010 Orthodox Episcopal Assembly of North America in an auxiliary role. I don’t get to attend the actual meetings, though I’ve been at some of the meals and have spent time with the hierarchs and others present in the halls of the hotel. Since this is such a genuinely historic occasion, we thought it might be of interest to readers to provide an informal witness to how things have been proceeding, to what it’s like to be here.
Fr. Andrew continues his reflection, with this second part.
His Grace Bishop THOMAS of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic has graciously provided the first pictures of the 2010 North and Central American Episcopal Assembly. Click here to view the gallery.
Make sure to check back over the course of the Assembly as this gallery is updated.
Images of the Assembly are also available via this gallery provided by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.
The Archdiocese encourages all her members to pray for the gathering of the bishops of North and Central America at this week's Episcopal Assembly in New York, NY. May our Lord through the Holy Spirit guide our hierarchs, and may His will be done.
In their announcement for the Assembly, the Orthodox Church in America offers this petition:
O All Merciful God! Grant our Hierarchs gathered in Episcopal Assembly to grow in wisdom and strength, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and to increase in love for each other, deepening Christian fellowship so that conciliar decisions may build up a canonically united Orthodox Christian Church of the Americas. May their work be guided by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and may the Spirit of unity and love, of compassion and mutual respect, inspire each to contribute toward the building up of the Body of Christ for the glory of Thy name, for Thou hast ordered us to do all things for Thy glory. Bless Thy people, uniting them for the building up of Thy Holy Orthodox Church of the Americas. O generous Creator; hear us and have mercy. For Thou art a merciful God, and unto Thee we ascribe glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese has published the opening remarks of Archbishop Demetrios, Assembly Chairman.
Antiochian clergy and faithful from around the country joined with other Orthodox Christians at St. Luke's Orthodox Mission in Anniston, Alabama from Friday, May 14 through Sunday, May 16 to participate in the 17th Annual Ancient Christianity and Afro-American Conference, sponsored by the St. Moses the Black Brotherhood.
The conference spanned three days and included many church services and lectures. Notable speakers included His Beatitude, Metropolitan JONAH; Priest Moses Berry, President of the St. Moses the Black Brotherhood and rector of Theotokos "Unexpected Joy" Mission in Ash Grove, MO; Dr Carla Thomas of Thomas Properties, LLC; Nun Katherine, superior of the St. Xenia Metochion, Indianapolis, IN; Priest Paisius Altschul, Executive Director of Reconciliation Services and rector of St. Mary of Egypt Orthodox Church, Kansas City, MO; and author, iconographer and rector Fr. Jerome Sanderson.
His Beatitude, Metropolitan JONAH celebrated the Hierachical Divine Liturgy on Saturday, May 15. More than a dozen clergy from across the United States concelebrated with him, from the Greek, Bulgarian, Antiochian, OCA, Moscow Patriarchate and Serbian jurisdictions.
On Sunday, May 16 His Beatitude celebrated the Divine Liturgy on the occasion of the feast remembering the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council. Joining His Beatitude were clergy from neighboring jurisdictions and nearby parishes.
The St. Moses the Black Brotherhood hosts chapters in Detroit, MI and Anniston, AL.
By Sara Tomczyk/IOCC Ethiopia
Addis Ababa — Lidya grew up on a small farm in southern Ethiopia and spent sunny afternoons playing barefoot in the fields. At 13, she began noticing a slight swelling in her feet. For a year Lidya hid this swelling from her family and school friends under long skirts. However, the swelling continued and a painful oozing wound appeared between her toes.
Lydia was afflicted by a debilitating disease called podoconiosis, a condition caused by the exposure of bare feet to alkalic clay soil that causes open sores and ulcers, infection, and burning, itching, or swelling of the feet and lower legs.
Like so many who suffer from her affliction and the misconceptions that surround her disease, Lidya's mother reacted harshly and blamed Lydia for bringing a curse upon their family. Yet, for Lidya and approximately one million people who are affected by podoconiosis in Ethiopia, a simple pair of shoes and daily foot treatments can change all of this.
Lydia fell into despair after realizing she must stop going to school and would never marry. Her mother forced her to stay inside the house and hide from the community. Then Lidya's father heard about a relative who also suffered from the condition and arranged for this relative to show Lydia how to wash her feet with soap and water and taught her the importance of shoes and socks. Within four months, the oozing stopped, and the outgrowths on her feet disappeared. She returned to school and raised awareness about the condition and its treatment among her classmates.
"So many Ethiopians, especially the children, face a host of dreadful diseases," said IOCC Ethiopia Country Representative Sigurd Hanson. "The numbers are brutal and stark, but most of these diseases are preventable."
Matthew Namee has published the following reflection on historic efforts to bring together American Orthodox Christians, and the upcoming North and Central American Episcopal Assembly. The article is also available at OrthodoxHistory.org, and as a podcast on Ancient Faith Radio.
We’ve tried this before. Over the past century or so, there have been no fewer than five attempts to bring the various ethnic Orthodox jurisdictions in America into some measure of administrative unity. Next week, from May 26-28, we embark upon a sixth effort — an effort which, compared to its predecessors, seems remarkably promising.
From May 15-24, a group of young adult Orthodox Christians are making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land under the guidance of Fr. Mark Leondis (GOA) and His Grace Bishop Savas of Troas.
An entry from Monday, Day 2, reads: "We took a 45 minute drive to Mount Tabor, where the Transfiguration of Christ took place. We drove up to the Greek Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration, where we were greeted by bells in honor of the Bishop. Some of the men (Jim, Paul, Matthew, Alex, Chris and George) decided to wear shorts -- so they humbled themselves with a sarong (borrowed from the women), so that they could enter. We took mini-buses up the mountain and it took us 10 minutes . . . to think that Jesus and His closest companions, walked up the mountain, just amazed the pilgrims.
Following the visitation to the mountain where Jesus was transfigured, we went to the river where Jesus submitted and humbled Himself to be baptized by his cousin John the Baptist. We stepped into the water up to our knees and read from Scripture and chanted hymns of Epiphany, and each received a blessing in the name of the Trinity. Some of the pilgrims decided to enter the water fully (Christina, Giselle, Alex, Ivonne, Stella and Leanora). Very interesting was to see the Gospel narrative from Mark 1:9-14, in dozens of languages (some of which we never have heard) -- for example, have you ever heard of "Fang?" or "Tagalog?" It reminded us of Jesus' command in the last verses of Matthew (28:10), 'Go and baptize all nations.'"
To follow the travel blog, click here.
Working Committees, Archdiocesan Synod, Board of Trustees, and North and Central American Episcopal Assembly to Meet
May 17, 2010, Englewood, NJ
Over the course of the next two weeks, several meetings that are critical to the future of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, and all Orthodox faithful in North and Central America, will take place.
Beginning on Wednesday May 19th and Thursday May 20th, two working committees of this Archdiocese will meet in Englewood, NJ. Both committees were appointed by His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP in October 2009, and are chaired by His Grace Bishop JOSEPH. The Constitutional Reconciliation Committee will meet on Wednesday May 19th. The goal for this committee is to reconcile any remaining differences between the current Archdiocesan Constitution (approved by our General Assembly at a special meeting which was convened in Pittsburgh, PA in July 2004), and the Constitution that was approved by the Holy Synod of Antioch in October 2004. The second committee is chartered to study the current “Manual of Hierarchical Duties and Responsibilities” (originally approved by the Archdiocesan Synod on June 4, 2004, and amended on July 23, 2008). The committee will recommend changes to this manual in light of all of the events that have transpired since the last amendments were made.
The Archdiocesan Synod of Bishops will convene their regular Spring meeting in Englewood, New Jersey on Thursday May 20th in the evening, and will continue on Friday May 21st in the morning. Among the agenda items to be discussed will be the North American Episcopal Assembly which will convene in New York City on May 26th. In addition, each of our hierarchs will give a report on important developments in his diocese since the last meeting.
Journey To Orthodoxy announces the launch of a new, content rich website for inquirers, newcomers and those looking into the Orthodox faith.
The launch of a new website at www.journeytoorthodoxy.com, fills a void in online material for inquirers and those struggling to find and enter the Orthodox Church.
“A lot of thought, research and time went into making it easy to use and filling this site with rich content, especially for the newcomer to our Orthodox faith,” said Fr. John A. Peck, designer and president of Journey To Orthodoxy.
This website is rich with content, notably a multitude of conversion stories by converts to the Orthodox faith from a multitude of traditions.
“For the inquirer, the journey home to the Orthodox faith can seem a lonely journey at first, but they will soon know that the path to Orthodoxy is a well worn road, and that there are many before them who can help,” Peck said.
“We’re hoping that it will quickly become into the ‘go-to’ site for inquirers and catechumens,” said Fr. Hans Jacobse, a partner in the creation of JTO. “We are confident that people will find the Journey To Orthodoxy website to be inspiring, and navigating the site a good experience, and the articles rich and rewarding to read.”
Parishes can benefit from the Journey To Orthodoxy site as well. There are graphic links for JTO which webmasters can use, and the entire experience points towards contacting the local Orthodox Christian parish.
Announcement from the Ecumenical Patriarch Secretariate in Mexico, April 7, 2010:
In conformity with the canonical responsibility of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the diaspora, and sharing the vision of His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW, the Holy Metropolis of Mexico is pleased to announce that, in an unceasing and continuing mission outreach ministry effectively being pursued by the Holy Metropolis of Mexico for these past twelve years, with active ministries in Haiti, Cuba, Costa Rica, Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela, and following months of catechetical and pastoral preparation by the Mitered Archimandrite Andrew Vujisi, Archiepiscopal Vicar for the Holy Metropolis, and upon the written request and petition of Messrs. Andrew Girón and Michael Castellanos, leaders of a religious community in Guatemala, the heretofore Orthodox Catholic Church of Guatemala (OCCG), has been canonically received into the Holy Metropolis of Mexico.
In announcing this exciting development, His Eminence Metropolitan ATHENAGORAS of Mexico expressed his great pleasure in welcoming the OCCG which was received in its entirety, including their former clergy, seminarians, lay ministers, catechists and affiliated membership into the canonical family of the Orthodox Church. Following their official reception, the leaders of OCCG, Messrs. Andrew Girón and Michael Castellanos traveled to Mexico City where on the weekend of March 19-21, they were ordained to the Holy Priesthood, receiving the title of Archimandrite.
During Commencement at St. Vladimir’s Seminary on Saturday, May 22, 2010, the Board of Trustees of St. Vladimir’s Seminary will award a Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa, to His Grace, The Right Reverend BASIL (Essey).
His Grace is a 1973 alumnus of St. Vladimir’s. "He has served tirelessly to build up Orthodox Christianity in America and has contributed greatly to the field of liturgical music," reads the seminary announcement. The institution has invited the public to join in the graduation events, and to commemorate this "honorable and dedicated servant of God" in the Commencement exercises which begin at 2 p.m. on the campus of St. Vladimir's, in Crestwood, New York.
On Saturday, May 8, 2010, Archimandrite MICHAEL [Dahulich] was consecrated as Bishop of New York and New Jersey for the Orthodox Church in America, at Saints Peter and Paul Church in Jersey City. His Grace formerly served as a dean and professor at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Canaan, Pennsylvania.
His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah and other members of the Holy Synod of Bishops presided at the consecration Divine Liturgy.
The weekend's events commenced on Friday, May 7. Prior to his consecration, on the evening of May 7, clergy and faithful celebrated Bishop-elect MICHAEL'S formal Nomination with Great Vespers. Then on the following day, over 600 attended Saturday's consecration banquet.
On Sunday, May 9, Bishop MICHAEL celebrated the Divine Liturgy at Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral, 59 East Second Street, New York, N.Y. at 9:30 a.m.
Additional information and photographs will be posted on oca.org as they become available.
All of the clergy and faithful of the Antiochian Archdiocese exclaim Axios! to Bishop MICHAEL, and pray that the Lord will bless his episcopacy!
YONKERS, NY [OCA/SVOTS] — During the month of June 2010, Saint Vladimir’s Seminary here will offer a wide array of educational opportunities to the public. Registration fees will be waived for participants signing up by May 15th. Among the programs being offered are the following:
JUNE 3-9 — Iconography Workshops
Two master iconographers, one painting in the Russo-Byzantine style and the other painting in the Greek-Cretan School tradition, will offer iconography workshops. Protodeacon Nazari Polataiko of the Saints Alipij and Andrei Rublev Icon Studio, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, and Khouriya Erin Mary Kimmett, Norwood, MA, will limit each of their classes to 12 students. Iconographers with experience ranging from novice to master are welcome. Additional information is posted at www.svots.edu/2010-0603-iconography-workshops-upcoming.
JUNE 10-12 — Summer Symposium
“Hellenism and Orthodoxy” will be the theme of the annual Summer Symposium. His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, will deliver the public keynote lecture on Friday, June 11, at 7:00 p.m. Orthodox clerics and scholars from Turkey, Greece, and North America will round out the program. Additional information is posted at www.svots.edu/2010-0610-s....
JUNE 13-19 — Summer Academic Program
Archpriest John Behr, renowned Professor of Patristics and SVS Dean, will teach a course titled “From Gospel to Creed.” The course will examine key Christian figures and explore the historical and thematic paths that led to the formulation and promulgation of the Creed of Nicaea. A course description and requirements, schedule, registration, and fees are posted at www.svots.edu/2010-0613-s....