The Department of Missions and Evangelism was established in 1988 to "Make America Orthodox," in the words of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip. To fulfill that dream, the department endeavors to: 1) build new missions in North American cities of over 100,000 population which have no Orthodox Church of any jurisdiction; 2) respond to invitations of lay groups of Orthodox Christians who desire an English-speaking parish; 3) cultivate relationships with independent (generally Protestant) communities which desire to become Orthodox; 4) work with non-Orthodox pastors who desire to become Orthodox; 5) cooperate with College Ministry to develop mission parishes adjacent to major college campuses with no English-speaking Orthodox Church nearby; and 6) train and encourage Antiochian Orthodox priests and lay leaders to promote Orthodox Christian evangelism in their communities and begin new missions in nearby localities.
Since Metropolitan Philip founded this department 108 missions (excluding Western Rite parishes) have been established by the Antiochian Archdiocese. Of these, fifty-five have grown to full parishes. At present the department is developing missions in seven cities across the United States and Canada, and is exploring possibilities in several more.
By Bishop John Abdalah, Diocese of Worcester and New England, and Editor of The Word
The theme for the Conferences this new Church Year is from the Gospel of Luke: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27). God calls us to give all, but only after He has given all! He gives all for us. After God created all, He sent His only begotten Son to redeem the world and share His own love with us. He has joined us to Himself. He calls us to do likewise, sharing His word and Spirit and His love. In so doing, we are joined to be one with Him and one with each other. What our neighbors need most is what we need most: Jesus Christ. What a pity that most of the world still doesn't understand what God has done for the world and what He calls us to be! Calling us to love, with all of our heart, soul and strength, ultimately requires us to be love, as He is love. Loving in God's way allows us to be joined to God in the love of the Holy Trinity. Loving our neighbor means sharing ourselves, sharing God's love, sharing His Oneness. This love leads us to share God with our neighbors. Rather, this love allows us to share God who is in us with each other. Ministering to one another allows us to share in God's own ministry. This ministry is loving with all our heart, soul and strength.
“The saints are like a group of trees,” according to Desert Father Abba John the Dwarf, “each bearing different fruit, but watered from the same source; the practices of one saint differ from those of another, but it is the same Spirit that works in all of them.”
What is the parish’s responsibility to the new member? Few would believe that the parish’s responsibility to the new member is to welcome the new seed into the soil, tend to it until moistened with the water of baptism and oil of chrismation, then abandon its growth as the storm that is “the world, the flesh, and the devil” pounds it into oblivion. Few would want to be that seed.
In 1987 our beloved Metropolitan Philip established the Department of Missions and Evangelism, with the commission to bring America home to the Faith of Peter and Paul. This commission and calling, given not only to the leaders of the Evangelical Orthodox Church but to every Orthodox Christian living in North America, rings even truer today, and more urgently.
Without the necessary funds, however, such commissions often go unfulfilled. The Order of St. Ignatius has helped to fund this mission for over 25 years. Under the chairmanship of Fr. Peter E. Gillquist of blessed memory, and the spiritual advice of Bishop Antoun, the Department of Missions and Evangelism has been instrumental in raising up and receiving over a hundred church communities into our beloved Archdiocese. We cannot say that these churches were started only by the clergy, for the laity, moved to serve through the Order of St. Ignatius, provided the necessary funds for these efforts to bear fruit.