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Articles on Orthodox Christian Charity

"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."

Assyrian Children Bear Scars Of War, Face New Challenges In Exile

Cynthia, 9, and her classmate, David, 8, are among 128 Assyrian refugee students receiving IOCC assistance to continue their schooling in Lebanon: photo: Ramzi Haidar/IOCCCynthia, 9, and her classmate, David, 8, are among 128 Assyrian refugee students receiving IOCC assistance to continue their schooling in Lebanon: photo: Ramzi Haidar/IOCCJune 18, 2015

Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — Desperate to flee the onslaught of violence surrounding his village near Hasakah, Syria, Charbel remembers how frightened he was when his family barely escaped their home before they saw it destroyed by their attackers. The 14-year-old Assyrian boy left behind all of his possessions, friends, and school, but still carries his memories of Syria before the war and a wish to become a dentist someday.

Cynthia, 9, lived through similar terror when she and her parents were forced to quickly leave their home in the Syrian village of Tel Arbosh at dawn as the sounds of shooting could be heard in the distance. She is not sure what happened to her house or the family's belongings. Cynthia says she feels safe in Lebanon, but misses her school in Syria where she excelled at reading and writing in her third grade class.

Assyrian Christians, an ethnic minority group who speak a modern form of the Aramaic language spoken by Jesus, are being forced out of lands they have occupied for millennia. More than 1,000 Assyrian families from Syria have found safety behind Lebanon's borders after being targeted last February in attacks on villages stretching along the southern bank of the Khabour River. Their attackers burned homes and churches, murdered a fleeing 16-year-old boy, and abducted more than 200 Assyrian Christian men, women and children from their homes.

"Ancient Faith Presents" Interview with Samer Laham: Conflict and Relief in Syria

Samer LahamSamer LahamListen to the full interview

On May 14, 2015, Ancient Faith Radio (AFR) President John Maddex interviewed Mr. Samer Laham, Director of Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development (DERD) for the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch in Syria. The Department is a nonprofit organization belonging to and operating from the Patriarchate, located in the old city of Damascus. Mr. Laham was visiting the headquarters of the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) in Baltimore, MD, and during his visit sat down with Maddex to share his up-to-date account of the dire situation inside his homeland. 

"About 10.8 million people are in need of assistance" due to the civil war conditions in Syria, noted Maddex in his introduction. Additionally, due to the many consequences of the protracted war, "the whole population is really under hard conditions," explained Mr. Laham. Yet those who are working in relief efforts, he continued, persevere with faith, hope, and prayer. "We are the second largest organization on the ground...our vision in the future is to continue our work."

Department of Youth and SOYO Launch Improved Donation Portal

Fr Joseph Purpura, Chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries, writes:

Christ is Risen!

The Department of Youth and NAC SOYO have implemented a new donation page that now gives donors the opportunity to select the area of youth ministry they want their donation to be applied.

Donate securely online today to the following ministries:
General Fund (for youth projects)
Department of Youth Ministry
Healthy Youth Program
SOYO Leadership Conference
SOYO Metropolitan PHILIP Youth Worker Scholarship
SOYO Special Olympics
Teen SOYO General Account

Utilize our secure online donation page through the Antiochian Events hosting service.

May our Risen Lord continue to bless all of your good works!

Yours in Christ,
Fr. Joseph
Twitter: @FrPurpura

Patriarchal Special Tray Offering + Palm Sunday, 2015

Every year on Palm Sunday, a special Patriarchal tray offering is conducted in Antiochian parishes. The Palm Sunday special tray collection is for the benefit of the Patriarchate of Antioch, and is used at the discretion of the Patriarch to benefit people, churches, and programs of the Patriarchate of Antioch in the Middle East.

Now, more than ever, this material support is crucial, as our brothers and sisters in Syria are suffering such great hardship because of the violence that has gripped the country.

A significant portion of the funding that is required by the Archdiocese comes from the assessments and Special Trays which are paid by each parish to the Archdiocese on an annual basis.

For more information go here.

March 29: Syrian Relief Fund Raising Dinner in Pittsburgh, PA

On Sunday, March 29, 2015 the IOCC Pittsburgh Metropolitan Committee plans to hold a prayer service and fund raising dinner that will benefit our Syrian brothers and sisters in Christ. This Syrian Relief gathering will be held at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Pittsburgh, PA. We would like to cordially invite your parish to attend, and support IOCC's aid efforts in Syria.

The recent conflict has been devastating. It has resulted in the displacement of numerous Orthodox Christians that are now hungry, homeless, and lacking essential items.

Last year Archbishop Melchisedek, Metropolitan Silouan, Metropolitan Savas, Bishop Thomas, and (former) Archbishop Theodosius led our Syrian Relief gathering. This year we are hoping to more fully engage all of the Orthodox jurisdictions and faithful in this Orthodox offering of love, prayer, and mercy. Please join us!

Nurturing the Seeds of Orthodoxy: March is Antiochian Women's Month

March is Antiochian Women's Month across our Archdiocese. In the article that follows, you will find an important prepatory letter from Dianne O'Regan, Vice President/Project Coordinator for the North American Board of the Antiochian Women, who has outlined this year's observance, and the focus of the 2014-2015 Project.

In his letter attached below, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph writes:

"The Antiochian Women never tire of doing good works. And so for 2015, I have given them two new Projects—two new visions for the Antiochian Archdiocese: Monastic Communities and Regional Camping and Learning Centers."

IOCC Assists Syrian Christians Traumatized in Deadly Attack

Exhausted and traumatized Christians from villages in northeastern Syria gather at an Orthodox Christian Church in Hasakah, seeking refuge after their small communities were terrorized this week. photo: IOCC/GOPAExhausted and traumatized Christians from villages in northeastern Syria gather at an Orthodox Christian Church in Hasakah, seeking refuge after their small communities were terrorized this week. photo: IOCC/GOPAFebruary 25, 2015

Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — Fleeing for their lives, more than 2,400 exhausted and traumatized Christians from northeastern Syria sought refuge in the towns of Hasakah and Qamishli after their small communities were terrorized this week. The attackers targeted a stretch of villages along the southern bank of the Khabour River, where they burned homes and churches, murdered a fleeing 16-year-old boy, and abducted 150 Assyrian Christian men, women and children from their homes.

For those who managed to escape the attack and seek shelter in Hasakah, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), with its church partner, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA), is providing food, medical attention, and emergency aid. IOCC/GOPA, which has offices in both Hasakah and Qamishli, is responding to the immediate needs of more than 1,000 displaced Syrian families seeking shelter at the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Assyrian Church in the Al Nasreh neighborhood of Hasakah with the distribution of food parcels, bedding, infant clothing and shoes. More than 600 of the survivors who fled the onslaught are children.

IOCC, an ACT Alliance member, is one of the few humanitarian organizations inside Syria providing immediate assistance to displaced families and elderly who have endured four years of a brutal war. Working in 28 offices across Syria, IOCC has provided relief to 2.5 million vulnerable people inside Syria since 2012.

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, e-mail us at, 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

IOCC Provides Vital Winter Relief For War-Weary Syria

January 9, 2015

Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — Freezing temperatures, heavy snow and chilling winds sweeping across Syria are putting thousands of young lives in jeopardy as displaced mothers struggle helplessly to keep their small children warm and sheltered from the harsh winter conditions. Many live in shelled out buildings with no doors or windows to keep frigid weather out, or in temporary shelters with no heat. The need for warm clothing is great.

International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is responding with the distribution of handmade sweater sets for 600 children crafted last summer by 34 displaced Syrian women taught to knit through a cash-for-work program. IOCC and its church partner in Syria, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA), offered the one-month training as a way to help Syria's most vulnerable families achieve some financial independence. The new skills help provide vital income for the women and their families while displaced Syrian children benefit by receiving warm clothes to protect them against bitter cold.