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St. Ananias Orthodox Church Takes Root in Evansville, IN

Father Nabil Hanna, pastor of St. George Orthodox Church in Fishers, Indiana, and Fr. Peter Gillquist, the late Director of Missions for the Antiochian Archdiocese, had long wanted to plant a mission in Evansville, Indiana. After years of labor by them, as well as many others including the priests of Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Louisville, the decision was made to send Fr. Daniel Hackney and his family as mission planters for the St. Ananias Orthodox Church. At this time, Evansville was the largest metropolitan area in the country without an Orthodox parish. The nearest church was two hours away.  

Now, seven years later this mission has taken root through the prayers of St. Ananias, the first bishop of Damascus. Growing into a diverse congregation of people from many different backgrounds, the Lord has seen fit to provide his people with facilities that include both a church and an annex that includes a fellowship hall, office space and educational rooms. This past April with the blessing of Metropolitan Joseph and Bishop Anthony, the property was purchased with funds received almost exclusively from a stewardship drive within the congregation itself.

New Leadership Appointed for Department of Missions and Evangelism

V. Rev. John D. FinleyV. Rev. John D. FinleyV. Rev. Joseph HuneycuttV. Rev. Joseph HuneycuttAugust 9, 2016 — Englewood, NJ

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph has appointed V. Rev. John D. Finley as the new chairman of the Department of Missions and Evangelism, as well as V. Rev. Joseph Huneycutt as the department’s new vice chairman. Both of these appointments take effect September 1 upon the retirement of the current chairman, V. Rev. Michael Keiser.

Father John is attached to the altar of St. Athanasius Antiochian Orthodox Church in Santa Barbara, California. Ordained to the priesthood in 1997, and elevated to the dignity of archpriest in 2004, he has been an active field staff member of the Department for the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America since 1996, establishing and serving many missions and parishes across the United States and Canada.

Becoming Truly Human: the Spirit of Orthodox Christian Evangelism

by Sdn. Adam Lowell Roberts

Many of you may be familiar with the new Antiochian Archdiocese program Becoming Truly Human. Becoming Truly Human is a new evangelism program available to every parish in the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, and the ministry has been blessed to be shared with other jurisdictions.

While some may be weary of programs, this program has proven to be different. More than several priests and lay people have admitted they were wrong about their initial concerns. Others recognized right away that this program captures and shares the spirit of Orthodox evangelism. They applauded the Archdiocese for having a program which is effective, loving, Orthodox in spirit and nature, and above all helping our North American churches reconnect with our history of evangelism. We even have some overseas churches wanting to run the program.

Reflections on the Becoming Truly Human Program

"Becoming Truly Human" is an eight week outreach course offered by the Antiochian Archdiocese that uses the vehicle of small group discussions and hosted meals to share the love of Christ. The following two articles by a layman and priest, tell the story of how this program is changing lives.

~~For many years as a Protestant, I witnessed to others because I thought it was my duty. After all, we had been scripturally mandated by the Great Commission to do so, hadn't we? Unfortunately, try though I might, I can't remember many of the names or personal circumstances of those with whom I shared the Gospel. I mostly thought that my work was finished and the rest was up to God. (Read James Blackstock's reflection.)

~~For many years I have felt that in my parish, and in Orthodox Christian parishes in general, there is a need for an evangelism program that is more than simply posting the time of our services and asking parishioners to invite friends to the liturgy. The Divine Liturgy is definitely very powerful and full of the Grace of God. However, I think that most of our parishioners hesitate to invite others to come to an Orthodox Liturgy without laying some ground work that they often do not feel equipped to do. (Read a reflection by Fr. Michael Byars.)

"Love for our Brethren": AFR Interview Introduces New Program

“Becoming Truly Human” is an eight week course offered by the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America to increase effective and relational evangelism, especially towards those who have no religion or church affiliation. The program uses the vehicle of small group discussions and shared meals to help guests to feel loved, listened to, and welcomed.

In a June 24, 2015 podcast, Ancient Faith Ministries President John Maddex interviewed Charles Ajalat, one of the program's founding committee members, about the new outreach. Charles is an attorney, the former chancellor of the Antiochian Archdiocese, and a member of the Order of St. Ignatius. As one of the founders of the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) and Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS) North America, Charles is a veteran of start-up efforts, and in the interview he expressed his hopes that this new venture will help people "discuss questions...and then want to go forward into a catechism class with a priest."

OCMC Mission Sunday is February 22, 2015

The Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) has announced that this coming Sunday, February 22, 2015, is Orthodox Mission Sunday. "Please pray for Orthodox missionaries, mission volunteers, and missions ministries this Sunday," noted the release. "There are many opportunities for you to answer the call to make disciples of all nations, and the Orthodox Christian Mission Center is here to help. Please visit us online at www.ocmc.org, e-mail us at missions@ocmc.org, or call us at 1-877-463-6784 to learn more!"

OCMC is the official missions agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America. The organization supports numerous short and long term missionary efforts in the United States and overseas.

Download the Sunday bulletin insert for Mission Sunday

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.

Sign up Today: OCMC Mission Teams Still Have Openings

View all Mission Team openings

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.

Fr. Philip LeMasters Releases Book for Seekers

The Forgotten Faith is a treatise on the Eastern Orthodox Christian Faith written primarily for seekers of Truth by a former Baptist, Antiochian priest The Rev. Dr. Philip LeMasters. Pastor of St. Luke Orthodox Church in Abilene, TX, Fr. Philip is also the dean of the School of Social Sciences and Religion at McMurry University and the corporate secretary of the Board of Trustees of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary.

Explains Fr. Joseph Huneycutt, priest at St. Joseph Antiochian Orthodox Church in Houston, TX, in his blog review: "The author...lays out the essence and practice of Orthodox Christianity with the straightforward precision of an experienced teacher. His agenda seems to be: The better I teach, the more you learn, the fewer questions go unanswered. The teaching is methodical, practical, and convincing. Father Philip loves Eastern Christianity, believes his beloved to be unique and true, and presents his love to you with love."

Order The Forgotten Faith

New AFR Podcasts: Hasta la Gloria, and Sowing Seeds

December 19, 2013

Ancient Faith Radio (AFR) recently introduced several new podcasts. A Spanish-language podcast features homilies by Fr. Nicholas Andruchow, the priest of the only Orthodox orphanage in North America. Every Sunday Fr. Nicholas offers the homily at the St. Innocent Orphanage for boys. This is the opportunity to reflect on the Gospel from the point of view of Orthodox Christianity in Latin America," notes the AFR Website about Hasta la Gloria. "Through God’s grace this will help you ascend to the heavens."

Another new podcast was launched in cooperation with Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF). Titled Sowing Seeds: Building Orthodox Campus Ministry, the episodes promise to help listeners "learn about the leadership, vision, and direction of the OCF with Executive Director Jennifer Nahas and AFR host John Maddex."

Loving As God Loves Means Evangelism

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.

A Parish’s Responsibility to New Members

By Fr. John Oliver

“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.

Works of the Order in Action: Department of Missions and Evangelism

This photo was taken in Orem, Utah, at our Holy Apostles Mission in Utah County, near Brigham Young University and the Mormon International Missionary Training Center, and where Mormons are 90% of the population.This photo was taken in Orem, Utah, at our Holy Apostles Mission in Utah County, near Brigham Young University and the Mormon International Missionary Training Center, and where Mormons are 90% of the population.In 1987 our beloved Metropolitan Philip of Blessed Memory 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.

Order of St. Ignatius Offers Travel Reimbursements for Mission Priests

The Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch is accepting applications for reimbursement from mission priests for expenses incurred in travel to Parish Life Conferences, the Archdiocese Convention or the Bi-Annual Clergy Symposium. Please note that reimbursement of these expenses is for first pastors of small parishes and missions only, and that relevant receipts must be saved for six months. All requests must be submitted to Sameh Khouzam and received at the Archdiocese Headquarters no later than August 31.

For an application form, please contact Joanne Hakim, administrator for The Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch, at 201-871-1355.

 

Memory Eternal! + Fr. Peter Gillquist

Archpriest Peter E. Gillquist, retired chairman of the archdiocese's department of missions and evangelism, chairman of Conciliar Press, speaker, and the author of numerous books including Becoming Orthodox, reposed on Sunday evening July 1, surrounded by his family. 

Fr. Peter and his wife of 52 years, Kh. Marilyn, had lived for many years in Santa Barbara, California, but as of June 2009 they relocated to Bloomington, Indiana, where their son Fr. Peter Jon Gillquist serves as pastor of All Saints Orthodox Church.

Condolences may be posted on the All Saints website, where tributes have been pouring from all over the United States and abroad. A recent Ancient Faith Radio retirement interview with Fr. Peter, Kh. Marilyn and Fr. Peter Jon, is available here. The schedule of services is as follows:

Fr. Kenneth DeVoie appointed to the Department of Missions and Evangelism

His Eminence Metropolitan Philip has appointed Fr. Kenneth DeVoie to the Department of Missions and Evangelism as a full time mission priest. Fr. Kenneth was formerly the pastor of Emmanuel Antiochian Orthodox Church in Warren, Massachusetts. Fr. Kenneth has significant experience in “church planting” and the establishment of new church communities, and his expertise will certainly benefit the missionary efforts of our Archdiocese. We welcome Fr. Kenneth to the missions team of the Archdiocese.

Mission and Evangelism Conference Audio Available

Fr. Joseph Huneycutt and Dn. Gregory Norris at conferenceFr. Joseph Huneycutt and Dn. Gregory Norris at conferenceHow do we communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ to those around us? On January 20-22, 2012, the Dallas/Fort Worth area hosted a Missions and Evangelism Conference that examined how the historical Church approached evangelism, and discussed how to put ancient proven methods into modern practice locally.

Audio for the conference is now available on Ancient Faith Radio.

The lineup of speakers included author and missions expert Fr. Peter Gillquist, Antiochian author and speaker Fr. Joseph Huneycutt, and Fr. Evan Armatas, a Greek Orthodox mission priest from northern Colorado.

Fr. Peter Gillquist Reflects on Years of Ministry in AFR Interview

John Maddex, CEO of Conciliar Media Ministries, recently visited the home of Fr. Peter and Kh. Marilyn Gillquist to talk about the announcement by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip of Fr. Peter's retirement as Chairman of the Department of Missions and Evangelism for the Antiochian Archdiocese. In a roundtable discussion, John Maddex reminisced with Fr. Peter, Kh. Marilyn, and their son and Antiochian priest, Fr. Peter Jon Gillquist, about past years of ministry. Fr. Peter also shared his vision and hopes for the next generation of evangelists.

Listen to the interview.

View a retrospective photo gallery.

Fr. Peter Gillquist to Retire as Head of Department of Missions and Evangelism, Fr. Michael Keiser Appointed as New Head

Fr. Michael KeiserFr. Michael KeiserEffective December 31, 2011, Fr. Peter Gillquist will retire as the Head of the Archdiocese Department of Missions and Evangelism, and Fr. Michael Keiser is appointed as the new Head of this Department.

We extend our most heartfelt thanks to Fr. Peter Gillquist for the exemplary service which he has given to this effort for more than 23 years. It is safe to say that the entire missions program of this Archdiocese has been founded by his efforts, and his work leaves a strong base upon which we can build. We also acknowledge Khourieh Marilyn Gillquist for the support which she has given over these many years.

St. James of Westminster--The Making of a Mission

Young St. James' chanterYoung St. James' chanterAlmost a year ago now, an opportunity like no other was presented to a small group of people.  An e‐mail message sent by the then Parish Council President of St. James the Apostle (in Westminster, MD) was received by its parishioners stating that a change in leadership at St. James was imminent. 

New arrived priest Fr. Raphael with Bishop ThomasNew arrived priest Fr. Raphael with Bishop Thomas

What was not exactly clear at that time was how imminent. Within the next 24 hours, that message had become a reality. St. James was without a priest.

Living in our high-tech world, what followed immediately, and what seemed like for days, was a flurry of email activity amongst the parishioners. Some expressing anger, some expressing sadness, others asking, "What do we do next?"

That following Sunday, the church was full of emotion. Our little sanctuary was full with parishioners seeking answers.

Read the rest of the story and view parish photos HERE.

Orthodox Christian Elevator Speech Contest Winner Announced

Santa Barbara, CA — The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese Department of Missions and Evangelism is pleased to announce that Valerie Ann Zrake of New York City has won the first-ever Orthodox Elevator Speech Contest. In an on-line poll, Zrake's elevator speech was the favorite of voters out of 10 finalists. As a prize she wins $100 worth of Conciliar Press publications of her choice, compliments of the publishing house. Zrake is a parishioner at St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Brooklyn. Valerie won with this speech:

Orthodox Christianity is the authentic and original Christian Faith founded by Jesus Christ. As an Orthodox Christian you can experience heaven on earth through the Divine Liturgy which is mystical, spiritual, and beautiful, with it's incense, icons, and sacred music. You can transcend time and space while you meditate upon the words and teachings of Jesus Christ. It's the most pure form of Christianity – nothing artificial added. It's the real deal.

Zrake realized every Orthodox Christian should be prepared with a brief response when asked what the Orthodox Church is, and saw the contest as a good motivation to work out hers.  

Antiochian Mission Priest Releases Conciliar book, Spread the Word

Conciliar Press has released a book on evangelism by Antiochian mission priest Fr. Michael Keiser, called Spread the Word.  Subtitled Reclaiming the Apostolic Tradition of Evangelism, the book explains how Orthodox evangelism differs from the Protestant approach, and traces the Church's unbroken evangelistic tradition back to the time of the Apostles. Fr. Michael has also authored two other popular Conciliar titles, A Beginner's Guide to Spirituality, and A Beginner's Guide to Prayer.

"With his characteristic straight forward and humorous style, Fr. Michael Keiser covers the history of Orthodox evangelism, the rationale and the methods for continuing this tradition in our contemporary Western post-Christian society," says Conciliar's website. Listen to an interview with the author here, and go here to order a copy.

Vote for the “Best Orthodox Christian Elevator Speech!"

Santa Barbara, CA — Last month the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese Department of Missions and Evangelism announced a contest to write the best 30-second or less explanation of what the Orthodox Church is, essentially an Orthodox “elevator speech.  Response to the contest was superb, a panel of judges have selected the top ten finalists, and the Orthodox Christian public is asked to choose the winner by Internet poll.

To view the ten finalists and caste your vote for the “Best Orthodox Christian Elevator Speech” visit this Survey Monkey link before 7:00pm EDT on next Tuesday, July 26. The winner will be announced at the 50th Biennial Antiochian Archdiocese Convention in Chicago next week, and he or she will receive $100 worth of Conciliar Press publications as a prize.

Read the full press release here.

Bringing America to Orthodoxy: Personal Evangelism

"As many as have been baptized into Christ..."  Photo by Niko Tzetzis"As many as have been baptized into Christ..." Photo by Niko Tzetzis(The following article was first published in the Department of Missions and Evangelism's Manual, Bringing America to Orthodoxy.) 

The individual Christian proclaiming and defending his or her faith in God and Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of Orthodox Christian evangelism. It is the duty of every clergyman and layman to bear witness to the light of Christ, and be prepared to give a defense for the hope that is in us. Every Orthodox Christian should be familiar with and prepared to use the information presented here. These are some basic techniques for sharing one’s faith with a family member, friend, co-worker, neighbor or new acquaintance.

The personal witness

Jesus said to His disciples, “You shall be witnesses unto me” (Acts 1:8). The simplest way to share one’s faith is through one’s personal testimony, or personal spiritual journey.....“my story”. Tell someone else about how you became a Christian, or Orthodox, or what God means to you. Prepare your story in advance, and have the key parts memorized (though not word for word, so that it sounds canned).

Read the full article here.