Articles on Orthodox Christian Charity
(Baltimore, MD) — International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), the global humanitarian relief organization of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, has named five prominent Orthodox community leaders as the recipients of its Compassion at Work Award: Antiochians Charles R. Ajalat and Dr. George J. Farha, as well as Andrew A. Athens, George M. Marcus, and John G. Rangos, Sr.
The five visionary men were selected to receive the inaugural award for their extraordinary philanthropic contributions to the organization's mission and its continued success over the past 20 years.
In announcing the recipients, IOCC Board Chairman, Michael S. "Mickey" Homsey said, "As International Orthodox Christian Charities celebrates 20 years of delivering humanitarian service to those in need around the world, it owes a debt of gratitude to these men whose faith and philanthropic spirit served as the catalyst in developing IOCC as the humanitarian arm of the Orthodox Church in North America and as a unified ministry for the Orthodox community to express its faith in compassionate and tangible ways."
Three of the five award recipients, John G. Rangos, Sr., Andrew A. Athens and Charles R. Ajalat, founded the organization in 1992 and all five men, including George M. Marcus and Dr. George J. Farha, have served on the IOCC Board of Directors and are honorary IOCC board members.
The honorees will be recognized at the IOCC 20th Anniversary Gala on May 8, 2012, in Washington, DC. Mike Emanuel, Chief Congressional Correspondent for FOX News Channel, will serve as emcee for the gala, and Chris Hillman, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and founding member of the Byrds, will perform during the gala dinner.
Across the United States and Canada, mission team participants with the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) are gearing up for a summer of activity and ministry. Fourteen teams, each with a different purpose, will serve in ten different countries during the second half of 2012.
Roberta Sardell, a member of St. Stephen Antiochian Orthodox Church in Campbell, California, has participated in three mission trips. "In 2008 I was in Alaska, chiefly in an isolated village called Tatitlak on Prince William Sound, snowed in, in October," she explains. "In September of 2009 I helped lead retreats in Romania, touring monasteries and the painted churches of Bucovina. July of 2011 found me in the heat of Lodwar, northeastern Kenya. In each case I was blessed with talented Christian team mates; I was blessed meeting Orthodox brothers and sisters in other countries. I went as a teacher, a catechist, but I was educated in different cultures, different lifestyles, and how the Holy Spirit convicts people around the world."
More than 150 dental procedures were performed this month as part of a new FOCUS dental care initiative in Orange County, California. Working in partnership with the University of Southern California (USC) School of Dentistry and AYUDA, an international organization that provides dental care to underserved communities, FOCUS volunteers provided vital dental care, free of charge, to patients of all ages.
The services included teeth cleanings, fluoride treatments, fillings, and extractions. Each patient also received instruction on how to practice and maintain proper oral hygiene.
“This partnership with AYUDA and USC was a great success,” said FOCUS Center Director Jacob Lee. “We’re really pleased to provide this service to families who live in motels. Good dental health is absolutely critical to overall well being.”
Youth Equipped to Serve (YES), a ministry of FOCUS North America, hosted a YES Weekend in Oklahoma City on March 9-11, and now is kicking off another weekend of service in the city of St. Louis starting March 30. As the website explains, the YES program "provides opportunities for junior high and high school students to participate in formative weekends of service, with the ultimate purpose being to raise up a generation of Orthodox Christians who lead others in living out the true mission of the church- to love and serve our most needy neighbors."
The St. Louis weekend is a good example of a typical YES trip. Teens will meet at the local FOCUS Center--Gateway City/St. Michael’s--on Friday, stay overnight at Huckleberry Finn Youth Hostel, participate in service events throughout the weekend, and finish the trip by serving a meal for the homeless back at the FOCUS location.
Upcoming events include YES Atlanta on April 20-22, YES Grand Rapids on May 11-13, and YES Leadership Training on June 13-18 in Los Angeles' Skid Row.
Ten years ago, five determined and dedicated IOCC supporters cycled their way across the U.S. to celebrate IOCC's tenth anniversary of service providing humanitarian assistance worldwide. The Race to Respond riders raised funds for those in need and put IOCC on the map with the new Orthodox Christian supporters they encountered through cities and towns across California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.
Lead rider, Jim Angelus, is ready to repeat this feat and is seeking a crew chief to drive the pursuit vehicle and two cross-country cyclists to join him again in honor of IOCC's 20th anniversary of humanitarian service. This time, the cross-country route will take the cyclists along the northern tier of the country from Seattle, Washington, through Idaho, Montana, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, covering approximately 3,000 miles in 33 days.
TO BE READ FROM THE PULPIT AND PRINTED IN THE BULLETIN
Beloved Hierarchs, esteemed members of the Board of Trustees, members of our Archdiocesan Organizations and all faithful of our God Protected Archdiocese,
Greetings and blessings to you in the spirit of this Holy and Great Lent. I am certain that you have been following the tragic events in Syria from where many of us have originated. Besides our cultural and historical roots which are planted in Syria, Syria has a great spiritual significance to all of us and all Christians. Damascus is considered the most ancient city in the world. Syria and the entire Fertile Crescent gave the world its first known civilization.
Damascus is a holy city for us. It has been the center of our Patriarchate since the Patriarchate moved from Antioch. Our venerable Patriarch lives on the Straight Street where St. Paul walked to be baptized after his conversion to Christianity. (Acts 9:11)
St. Augustine, FL (OCMC) On March 19, 2012, the Orthodox Resurrection Health Centre became a registered health center in Bukoba, Tanzania. Originally opened as a hospital, the government shut it down in November of 2010, a month after the OCMC team arrived there to work, because they didn’t staff enough doctors. Unable to meet the requirements of a hospital, the Metropolis decided to register the facility as a Health Centre.
In November of 2011, KEDAS, the Greek Non-Governmental Organization that built the Health Centre, sent Giannis Dais to help the OCMC team get the clinic registered. With OCMC members Felice Stewart and Maria Roeber working to facilitate communication between the Metropolis and KEDAS and begin the administrative tasks necessary to prepare the center for operation, the clinic has finally gained registration.
Stewart says, “The building and grounds are beautiful. I have not seen anything this nice in this area. KEDAS has been very generous in providing equipment and supplies, and it is well outfitted.”
Now that the clinic is open, the next steps are to hire more staff to join the team.
In celebration of International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) two decades of faith-based humanitarian work, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Orthodox Christian, Chris Hillman, will perform at the organization's 20th Anniversary Gala on May 8, 2012, at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C.
Hillman, whose multi-faceted musical career spans five decades, gained popular recognition as a founding member of The Byrds, one of the most influential American rock bands of the 1960s. Their biggest hit song, "Turn, Turn, Turn," carries a message of peace and tolerance inspired by Biblical verses taken from the Book of Ecclesiastes. The song remains a rock classic and one of a few examples of scripture set to popular music.
Hillman's appearance at the Gala underscores his strong support of the philanthropic arm of the Orthodox Church. An evangelical Christian who came to know the Orthodox faith through his wife Connie, a Greek Orthodox Christian, he converted after a strong calling to explore Orthodoxy prompted him to speak to a priest and complete the holy sacrament of chrismation. Fifteen years later, he devotes much of his time and talent to supporting his church in Santa Barbara, California, and performing for Orthodox-based benefits like the IOCC 20th Anniversary Gala. "I feel as an Orthodox Christian that the talent God has given me now should be used to help the church and whatever I can do to generate interest to directly benefit those in need."
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops has appointed the Sixth Sunday of Pascha May 20, 2012, as Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday in all Orthodox parishes of North America. As the official prison ministry of the Assembly of Bishops, Orthodox Christian Prison Ministries is grateful for the designation of this important day, when all Orthodox Christians are called to unite in prayer for those in prison and their families. Please mark your calendar, pray, and consider supporting OCPM on Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday.
Kory Warr, Chairman of OCPM, writes:
"The ministry of OCPM continues to grow at an incredible pace. When I took over the correspondence ministry a couple of years ago, we received somewhere around 25 letters per month; now, we receive close to 200. Every two weeks, I send out a general letter to over 300 men who are in prison. I also correspond personally with around 70 men. Our correspondence is on substantive matters of faith; it is decidedly not small talk.
Baltimore, MD (IOCC)--When long-time Oklahoma City attorney and former judge Michael S. "Mickey" Homsey was named as the new Chairman of the Board of Directors for International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), one of his top priorities was to see firsthand the impact of IOCC’’s humanitarian relief and development work around the world. On January 22, 2012, Homsey fulfilled this wish as he embarked on a one-week tour of IOCC programs in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, accompanied by his wife and by IOCC Executive Director Constantine Triantafilou.
Syria held particular interest for Homsey because of its recent visibility in the world media and IOCC’s response to provide humanitarian assistance to Syrian families internally displaced by conflict in the region. Since its founding in 1992 and as an expression of solidarity with the church to continue its witness in the cradle of Christianity, IOCC has collaborated with the Patriarchate of Antioch, supporting education and distributing equipment to diaconal institutions.