Alex Goodwin (4/13/2009)
St. Augustine, FL - On April 13, 2009 the staff of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center  began working in the Archbishop Anastasios and Archbishop Demetrios Missionary Training and Administration Building. The opening of this facility marks a new era in North American Orthodoxy’s mission movement. The building will prove to be a vital resource of the Church as more Orthodox Christians answer their call to share the Faith with people around the world through participation in the ministries of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC).
This is the first permanent facility of an agency of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA); it will serve as an international missions headquarters for North America’s estimated 1.5 million Orthodox Christians.
Formal dedication ceremonies will be held on May 21, 2009. Both His Beatitude Anastasios, Archbishop of Tirana, Durrës and All Albania, and His Eminence Demetrios, Archbishop and Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and Chairman of SCOBA, together with other hierarchs of SCOBA, will be at the dedication to celebrate this historical moment in Orthodox missions and to lead the gathered faithful in praying for the continuation of this vital work of the Church.
OCMC currently has 12 long-term Missionaries serving in three countries; and is in the process of deploying 6 more Missionaries this year. In 2009, OCMC will also send nearly 100 volunteers on 11 short-term Mission Teams that will serve in 8 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Central America, and North America. The OCMC is committed to training and equipping these individuals and has developed intensive training programs for long-term Missionary Candidates and Mission Team Members. With an interactive learning center, a training room, and seven dormitories, over half of the building's 12,000 square feet are dedicated to training these mission workers. Commenting on the completion of this facility, OCMC's Executive Director Fr. Martin Ritsi stated, "The new Mission Center was designed for the needs of today, with a vision for the needs of tomorrow."
In response to Christ's final command to "make disciples of all nations," the OCMC is dedicated to helping the Church realize its missionary vision. In addition to sending Missionaries and Mission Team volunteers, the OCMC subsidizes the salaries of over 350 indigenous clergy in 18 mission countries. It helps train new church leaders by supporting seven seminaries around the world, and it funds numerous ministry and philanthropic projects of the Church abroad. In the new state-of-the-art Missionary Training and Administration Building, these programs will be able to work toward sharing the Gospel of Christ in more areas around the world in the years to come.
The ground for this new facility was broken in 2006, and its completion is the culmination of decades of growing prayer and support for missions among the various canonical Orthodox Churches of the Americas. The new building stands as a tribute to the many people who made its construction possible, and it reflects the Orthodox Church's growing commitment to missions.
The Orthodox Christian Mission Center is the official mission agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA). It is dedicated to proclaiming the fullness of the Orthodox faith in response to Christ’s last commandment to make disciples of all nations. For more information on OCMC and the May 21 Dedication go to www.ocmc.org .