"We have all heard our own children, or stories of other children, singing parts of the Divine Liturgy when they were either playing at home or singing in the car when they thought no one else was listening," explains Liz McMillan, Choir Director at St. Elias in Atlanta. Liz has capitalized on that natural love for music through her work with two Archdiocese Departments, Christian Education and Sacred Music; for years, she's taught seminars and written about how to introduce church music to children. Sacred Music recently published her groundbreaking resource guide as a PDF on their webpage. Titled "Introducing Orthodox Liturgical Music to Children", the two versions of the manual (Pre-school to 6 year olds and 7-12 year olds) cover concepts such as how to explain to kids why we sing the music we do, and how to structure music class time.
Antiochian.org interviewed Liz McMillan to find out why she dedicates so many of her volunteer hours to working with children and church music.
1. Tell us a little about your background, and how you came to be so involved in church music.
I started singing with the adult choir of my parish when I was 8 or 9 years old. I grew up singing in Sunday School and was a music major in college. I would say I fell into the music job in my own parish, eventually working with the children there. When His Grace Bishop Antoun visited our parish he was amazed at how our children sang.
The participants in the thirteen committees formed by the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops have been announced. Antiochian bishops will be serving on several key committees. All of the members of each committee have been chosen as well as the respective committee Chairs, and the finalized list is available here. Under the oversight of each committee Chair, members will address the tasks as articulated in the Committee Descriptions. Each committee has the goal of assembling a minimum of one time, in advance of the forthcoming meeting of the entire Assembly in May.
In addition to the role His Grace Bishop Basil will play as Secretary of the Assembly, Antiochian bishops will be active in several other capacities. His Eminence Metropolitan Philip will be serving on the Committee for Canonical Affairs; His Grace Bishop Antoun will participate as a member of the Committee for Clergy Affairs; His Grace Bishop Alexander will serve as a member of the Committee for Ecumenical Relations; His Grace Bishop Joseph will chair the Committee for Pastoral Practice; and His Grace Bishop Thomas will chair the Committee for Youth.
February is a season for conferences, as Orthodox Christians go indoors to escape the cold while enjoying fellowship and spiritual enrichment.
In a cyberspace gathering on February 11 and 12, the organization Illumination Learning ("Bringing Together Orthodox Christian Resources to Share with Each Other") will be hosting "Orthodoxy in the Home" in the first annual Orthodox Christian Online Education Conference. The line-up of speakers includes Fr. Luke Veronis, who will talk about how to teach children about missions; the sister singers of Eikona, who will discuss "Teaching Our Families the Hymns of Our Church"; and Antiochian priest Fr. Joseph Huneycutt, who will expound on how humor and the funny moments of family life are teachable moments too. Go here to register virtually, for this virtual conference!
The following weekend, February 18 and 19, The Climacus Conference will tackle great themes in philosophy, theology and literature in their series of lectures held at St. Michael Orthodox Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Clothing, food, Plato, marriage, Dostoevsky, a movie screening and more, will be discussed by academic notables such as Vigen Guroian and by popular authors such as Conciliar Press writer Molly Sabourin.
That same weekend, the pan-Orthodox coalition North Texas Orthodox Missions, is sponsoring the 2011 Festival of Orthodoxy Conference in two Texas cities, Fort Worth and Dallas. Featured guests Kh. Frederica Mathewes-Green and Dr. H. Tristram Engelhardt Jr. will speak to the theme, “From Conception to Dying: Orthodox Christian Views in Today’s World.” Go here for information and registration.
The February 2011 issue contains the following articles:
The Jubilee and Grace, pg. 4
by Sandy Hermansen
To Be Loved, pg. 7
by Fr. Michael Nasser
Envy and the Christian, pg. 11
by Fr. Daniel Morton
Global Economic Crisis?, pg. 15
by Fr. Joseph Allen, Th.D.
Christianity's Misbegotten Child, pg. 18
by Carole Buleza
The Promised Land and the Chosen People: The Two-State Solution, pg. 21
by Archbishop Cyril S. Bustros
PITTSBURGH, PA (Jan. 25, 2011)—Speaking to over 450 people at the Jan. 25 FOCUS Pittsburgh fundraising dinner, Theodora Polamalu challenged those present to put their hope and desire to help those in need into action.
Theodora and her Super Bowl-bound Pittsburgh Steelers husband, Troy Polamalu, are committed to caring for those in need. Theodora, FOCUS North America Advisory Board Member, said during her address to the crowd, “to treat every person as an icon of Christ is the foremost principle of FOCUS, the heart of its mission.”
Seeing that mission realized is what brought such a large crowd to the event, which was hosted by Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church’s Philoptochos Chapter and sponsored by the Pittsburgh Clergy Brotherhood. Through tickets sales, auction items, sponsorships and general donations, the event raised nearly $65,000 to further the good work of serving those in need.
"Following Christ through Crisis" is the theme of the 2011 Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) Chaplain Conference, which will be held at Antiochian Village on February 8-10, 2011. This yearly conference, composed of clergy and lay leaders of local OCF chapters, will feature Antiochian priest Fr. John Abdalah in the keynote sessions. Fr. John, a licensed counselor, is a seasoned OCF chaplain who has worked at the University of Pittsburgh. Fr. John is also a founder of the Orthodox Pastoral Counseling Institute in Pittsburgh.
A variety of mini-clinics will be available, featuring topics such as "The First Two Weeks of the Semester," and "Developing Continuity in Student Leadership."
Twenty scholarships covering all travel and registration costs are going to be awarded to qualified applicants, thanks to a matching grant offered by The Lilly Endowment for the Theological Exploration of Vocations. Current OCF chaplains as well as those interested in the chaplaincy are eligible and encouraged to apply.
Antiochian priest Fr. Michael Nasser, OCF's North American Chaplain notes, "It's simply the way things are: the great majority of college students today will face multiple crises during their college years. Most students do well until a crisis hits, and that's when many lose their way. We hope we can better equip our chaplains to help our students get through these challenging times, holding fast to Christ and His Church as their anchor." Click here for more information and here to register.
Byztex Blogspot reports, "On January 17th, birthday and name day of the Antiochian Orthodox Metropolitan Antonio (Chedraoui) of Mexico, Central America and Venezuela, the new Cathedral of the Archdiocese, dedicated to Sts. Peter and Paul was consecrated. The celebration included many Antiochian hierarchs - Metropolitan Antonio of Mexico, Metropolitan Sergio of Chile, Metropolitan Damaskinos of Brazil, Metropolitan George of Homs (Syria), Metropolitan Paul of Australia and New Zealand, Metropolitan Paul of Aleppo (Syria), Metropolitan Silouan of Argentina, Metropolitan John of Western and Central Europe, Bishop Antoun of Miami, Bishop Ghattas - superior of the Balamand monastery in Lebanon, as well as Bishop Alejo of Mexico (OCA)."
The cathedral is situated at Bosque Real in the Huixquilucan division of Mexico. At the consecration which began at 11 a.m., the attending bishops and clergy served in Arabic, Portuguese and Spanish. The faithful enjoyed the unique rendition of the doxology and psalms sung in alternating fashion by Bishop Damaskinos and the archdiocesan choir.
YouTube is carrying a Spanish summary of the consecration and surrounding events here. A Spanish description of the events can be read here at the cathedral website, while Byztex has provided an English translation to the cathedral report.
"We're looking forward to seeing you in 2011!" says the home page of the 50th Antiochian Archdiocese Convention taking place in Chicago on July 24-31. Hosted by St. George Orthodox Church of Cicero, Illinois, the convention is meeting at the beautiful Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile Hotel, where specially priced rooms are quickly filling up in anticipation of the summer convention. A packed schedule includes SOYO leadership training, a golf outing and a cruise down Lake Michigan, department meetings, a full liturgical cycle of services, Kids Clubs and the Bible Bowl, a Grand Banquet and a Hafli, and several special speakers. Travel discounts are available through United and American Airlines, and Avis and Hertz car rental companies are offering reduced rates as well. All Antiochian faithful interested in attending are encouraged to make their plans now to make use of the available discounts and to secure rooms while they are still open.
For more information, log on to the Convention website.
On Saturday, January 15, 2011, the first Divine Liturgy ever was celebrated in the new Holy Annunciation Chapel in Taos, New Mexico. Fr. John Bethancourt celebrated the service, the first ever in the Taos area, with the help from Subdeacon Raphael Nava and members of the choir and congregation of Holy Trinity Church in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Chapel founder Claire Brandenburg and several other local Taoseños also attended the service. Following the Liturgy, Fr. John led a presentation and discussion on the theology of Holy Icons in the attached Heavenly Ladder bookstore and coffee shop. It was a delight to see the further development of the Taos mission project and to assist the vine of the Orthodox Church as it takes further root in northern New Mexico.
Heavenly Ladder Bookstore was featured in a recent edition of The Taos News:
Recently, I returned from a pilgrimage to Syria and Lebanon. When embarking on such a journey, we often have expectations. My expectations were simple: I wanted to visit the holy Shrine of St. Thekla and monasteries, gleaning information and experience to provide consistency and to ensure the transmission of the Antiochian ethos within the life of the Convent of St. Thekla in Pennsylvania.
Archdiocese Calls for Congressional Hearing on the Pattern of Escalating Violence Against the Christian Minority in Egypt
Shortly after midnight on January 1, 2011 as a Coptic Christian mass was concluding, a suicide bomber exploded a bomb as the Christian congregation was leaving The Saints Church in the port city of Alexandria, Egypt. The innocent worshippers were gathered to give thanks for the New Year. At least 25 were killed and more than 90 were injured in the attack. This was one of the most heinous terrorist attacks on a Coptic Christian church in over a decade, and it marks a serious escalation of organized violence against the Coptic Christian minority in Egypt.
The Egyptian President, Husni Mubarak has condemned the barbaric attack on this church which not only killed Christians, but wounded some Muslims in a nearby mosque.
We condemn these barbaric acts of hatred and targeted persecution against our brethren in Egypt. We demand a Congressional hearing on this and other heinous attacks against the Christian population in Egypt, and we expect the United States Congress to take action to address the painful absence of basic and fundamental human rights in Egypt.
+ The Office of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America – Englewood, NJ
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip calls on all supporters of the Christian minority of Egypt to write their congressional representatives with this same message of solidarity.
The January 2011 issue contains the following articles:
Middle East Institute Honors Antiochian Orthodox Layman Issam Fares, pg. 4
Clergy Wives Weekend 2010, pg. 7
10th Annual Orthodox Women's Retreat, pg. 9
by Judy Pinkerton
Seminarian Dinner at the Archdiocese Headquarters, pg. 11
Mother Alexandra's Pilgrimage to Syria and Lebanon, pg. 16
Each year during Christmas break, college conferences are held in various regions in the U.S. This year three regional conferences are currently taking place. In the East at Antiochian Village, attendees are enjoying traditional soccer and football games, a supplication service to Saint Raphael at his grave, a keynote presentation by Dr. Gayle Woloschak about technology and the Church, and what has been called "an epic coffee house night and a bonfire in the snow."
In the West at California's St. Nicholas Ranch, participants are listening to the keynote speaker, Abbot Meletios Webber, a well known author, lecturer, and scholar; attending daily workshops led by Mother Melania of the Santa Barbara Monastery and Katrina Bitar, Program Director of Focus North America, and going to nightly events, including the West's "famous open Mic Night."
OCN is pleased to offer, to both under-graduate and post-graduate college students, a series of internships during 2011. All internships may be done locally or remotely, and all last for six months; internships may be renewed.
Some of the internships are in: Audience Insight and Research, Audio Engineering, Communications and Marketing, Design, Multimedia, Reference Library, Social Media Desk, and Religion Desk.
Each applicant is requested to send a letter of interest, a resume, a writing sample where speciﬁed, and a letter of recommendation from his or her parish priest, to OCN's Executive Director at FrChris@stdemetrios.org. To learn more visit OCN's website. Click here for a full list of internships.
Capitalizing on a wave of interest in Orthodox classical education and learning, Eighth Day Institutes in Wichita is hosting their first Eighth Day Symposium conference at the end of January. The Symposium, "Imagination and Soul: Harry Potter, Twilight and Spiritual Formation," will feature noted speaker John Granger, dubbed by Time magazine as the "Dean of Harry Potter Scholars." Additional speakers from across the country will discuss these topics: "Holy Knowledge: Classical Education and the Church Fathers," "The Advent of Superman? Classical and Modern Education," and "Why Bother with Books?" Go here to register for this free event.
Wichita is also looking into the prospects of forming a new classical Orthodox school which will meet at St. George Cathedral. “We’re Orthodox,” His Grace Bishop Basil said in a recent interview. “We have something that’s true. We have something precious to offer that’s different than every other school.” With the Bishop’s blessing, a steering committee has been established and the committee leaders will present a strategic plan for the school by January 2011.
Further west, Antiochian Christian educators in Idaho have founded the Classical Learning Resource Center.
St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church of Orlando, Florida was founded in 1968. During the V. Rev. Fr. John Hamatie's thirty-seven year tenure the parish purchased and remodeled their church building, and also bought the office building and parking lot behind the Church. The parish has been a presence downtown since 1974, when the community established the annual tradition of Diving for the Cross in Lake Eola Park. Then in 1976 the parish celebrated their first liturgy in the church downtown, on the Fourth of July.
In 2009 in conjunction with the Ephraim Project, Fr. John began to put St. George's parking lot to good use during the week, when he established a weekly feeding for those he calls "our homeless brothers and sisters." Volunteers arrive earlier in the day to prepare food for between 150 and 200 people every Friday; meals are served in the outdoors in the same place that parishioners park on Sundays. "The Blessings deriving to us for over the last year of feeding 200 homeless men, women and children every Friday behind the Church is perhaps one of our greatest spiritual 'highs.' To be actually fulfilling a command of the Lord to love those closest in proximity is a wonderful thing."
Metropolitan Philip Grants A Canonical Release For His Grace Bishop Mark To Be Received Into The Orthodox Church In America
December 13, 2010
On December 8th, 2010, in a letter to His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah, Primate of the Orthodox Church In America (OCA), His Eminence Metropolitan Philip granted a canonical release for Bishop Mark (Maymon) in order that he be received into the OCA. This letter was a reply to a formal request from Metropolitan Jonah, on behalf of the Holy Synod of the OCA, that Bishop Mark be released from the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America so that he might be received into the OCA.
In his letter to Metropolitan Jonah, Metropolitan Philip wrote “Bishop Mark is a very good bishop and I am sure that he will contribute his talents for the edification of the faithful of the Orthodox Church In America.”
Our prayers are with Bishop Mark that his new episcopal ministry will be greatly blessed.
Additional information may be found on the website of The Orthodox Church In America at www.oca.org.
A word from Metropolitan Philip:
“I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding. Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say 'Amen' at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say? For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified.” ( l Corinthians I4: I5-I 7).
Beloved In Christ,
As we gather together each day and each week to participate in the liturgical life of our Church, and celebrate the mysteries of our Faith, we realize that none of this would be possible if it were not for the presence of our faithful chanters, choir directors and choir members. They are there not simply to sing the hymns and responses for us, as if we were coming to listen to a concert of Orthodox music each week. Rather, they are there to help guide and lead us all in our worship of God, as we give thanks to Him who given us this life through our own perfect offering and sacrifice of praise.
-Troparion, Tone 8
Singing the praises of the Trinity, you followed God by enduring suffering; you renounced the multitude of idols, O holy martyr Barbara. In your struggles, you were not frightened by the threats of your torturers, but cried out in a loud voice: “I worship the Trinity in one God-head.”
-Kontakion, Tone 4
The December 2010 issue contains the following articles:
Taking Water to the Jordan, pg. 4
Fr. Joseph Allen Visits Balamand, pg. 6
by Fr. Bassam Nassif
Eating in an Anciently Refreshing Way, pg. 9
by Rita Madden, MPH, RD
An Unimaginable Experience, pg. 21
by Mary Salim
Ascending the Mountain, pg. 22
by Fr. Kevin Gregory