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The Climacus Conference 2017: Encountering God

The sixth biennial Climacus Conference, a pan-Orthodox spiritual/academic event, is scheduled for February 24–25, 2017 and will be hosted by an Antiochian parish, St. Michael Orthodox Church, in Louisville, KY. The 2017 theme has been chosen to remind us that our reason for existence and our purpose as human beings is to encounter (and experience) God. The conference will give primacy to Theology; moreover, it will explore ways to encounter God through patristics, philosophy, beauty, liturgical arts, saints and miracles, poetry, et al. The conference will feature more priests speaking, along with more spiritually-focused speakers. After all, the website says, we are all going to die soon, and there we will encounter God. Imagine such an encounter after having actively sought Him in this life. Perhaps such encounters here are already encounters there? Perhaps these encounters prepare us for that encounter? Perhaps they influence or shape the Great Encounter? With this desire and purpose in mind, attendees will convene from near and far for another weekend of enrichment and fellowship, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

View the Climacus Conference website.
Visit the Conference Facebook page.
Contact David Wright, Conference Founder and Director at climacusconference@gmail.com or call (502) 296-2095.

Youth Music Ministry Teen Scholarships Available

Great Opportunity for Teens who love Music!

The Department of Sacred Music is thrilled to announce the upcoming Youth Music Ministry, in conjunction with the 2017 Winter Sacred Music Institute, to be held from February 17, 2017 at 7 p.m. until February 19, 5 p.m. Hosted by St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Houston, this weekend promises to be informative, inspirational and a lot of fun, Texas style! REGISTER HERE!!

This is the first time a Youth Music Ministry, or YMM, has been organized outside of the Summer Sacred Music Institute at the Antiochian Village. We invite all teens, especially those from the host parish Diocese of Wichita and Mid America, to participate.

Come learn more about Lenten services, their history, theology and of course their music. Think of it as kind of a tune-up before Great Lent begins!

A New Civil Year: January Liturgical Texts Now Available

A double icon St. Basil the Great and the Circumcision of our LordA double icon St. Basil the Great and the Circumcision of our LordThe first day of the civil new year begins with the celebration of an important event in the life of our newborn Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, which leads to another celebration later in the week of His manifestation to the world. The liturgical texts for the month of January, blessed by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, are now ready for clergy and laity to download from the Online Liturgical Guide.
 
On January 1, eight days after His nativity (Christmas), our Lord consented to be circumcised in the flesh in order to become the only human to fulfill the Law of Moses. This act of humility and servitude shows that our Lord identifies with the low estate of His people in order to deliver them from sin and death by introducing God's grace that supersedes the ancient Law.

Diocese of Charleston Bible Study + December 28, 2016

Titus 2:11–15; 3:4–7
Mark 11:23–26

Titus 2:11–15; 3:4–7 (NKJV) 
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the
washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Seek First the Kingdom of God: A Reflection for the Nativity Season

St. JohnSt. JohnSt. SeraphimSt. SeraphimOn December 6, 2016, His Grace Bishop Thomas, Diocese of Charleston, presented this Nativity reflection to a group of parish council members. His timely words are equally applicable to any and all of the faithful during this holy season of the year.

It is my pleasure to be speaking here this evening.  I want to commend you all for your hard work and dedication to your parish. The spiritual health of any parish is a reflection of the spiritual health of its leadership, especially that which is provided by the parish council. 

As I begin my reflection, I thought I would offer a short story concerning St. John Maximovitch of San Francisco. On the evening before St. John was going to commemorate the solemn canonization of Fr. John of Kronstadt, he was celebrating the All Night Vigil in preparation for the Divine Liturgy the next day. It so happened that a group of parishioners had organized a Halloween Ball on the very same night of this vigil. Thus, when the All Night Vigil began many people were absent, to the great sorrow of St. John.

After the vigil service, St. John went to the place where the ball was being held. He entered the hall and the music stopped; in absolute silence, he glanced sorrowfully at the revelers. With his staff in hand, he slowly walked around the entire hall. He didn't speak, but the sight of the holy bishop brought general consternation to the party. Saint John then left the hall, but the next day in church he issued a call to all present, to seek the devout Christian life.

Memory Eternal! + Joseph F. Ferguson

Memory Eternal! Joseph F. Ferguson, the father of the Very Rev. Timothy J. Ferguson (Protosyngellos of the Archdiocese and Pastor of St. George Church in Boston, MA), reposed in the Lord on December 10, 2016. Joseph was a beloved husband for 71 years of Agnes M. (Shaffer) Ferguson; devoted father of Rev. Timothy (Louise) Ferguson, Joseph Ferguson, Jr. (the late Noot), Daniel (Christine) Ferguson and Nancy (Michael) Kelly; brother of Maureen Scanlon, James (Loretta) Ferguson, the late John, Edward, Harry, and Patrick Ferguson; loving grandfather of Christina, Brendan, Shane, Jillian, Devin, Douglas, Meghan, Kevin, and Erik; great grandfather of Luke.

Joe was born in County Derry, Northern Ireland, immigrated to Pittsburgh in 1925 and was raised on the North Side. He worked in the Civilian Conservation Corps. prior to enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1941, serving in North Africa, France and Germany. He retired from the U.S. Army Reserves as a Master Sergeant. Joe was a Past Commander of American Legion Post # 0156 - Mt. Lebanon, PA; he was a member of the Knights of Columbus; and was retired from Mellon Bank as a Real Estate Trust Officer. Joe was very involved at Saint Bernard Church serving in many capacities.

Friends will be welcomed at Laughlin Memorial Chapel, 222 Washington Road, Mt. Lebanon, PA, on Thursday, December 14 from 2:00 until 8:00 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated in Saint Bernard Church, Friday morning, December 15, at 11:30 a.m. Interment is at Queen of Heaven Cemetery.

2016 Nativity Message from Bishop Anthony

Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ 
December 25, 2016

Dear Midwest Clergy and Faithful,

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
المسيح ُوِلد!َ فمجدوه! 

Blessed be that Child, who gladdened Bethlehem today! Blessed be that Babe who made us young again today! Blessed be the Good One, who enriched our lives! Blessed is He whose tender mercies heal our many infirmities!
                            St. Ephraim the Syrian (c.306-373) from Hymns on the Nativity #2

When we see the Baby Jesus, our Lord and Savior, a powerful presence of His youthfulness stares us in the face. Outside of Christ we grow old. In the world we are always getting older, but in the church we are spiritually always growing younger. By looking at, being with, and hearing from Jesus Christ, our souls grow youthful, refreshed by the Holy Spirit. From the womb of the morning like dew, your youth will come to you. Psalm 110:3

As we worship this Little Lord Jesus, let His Birth give birth to a spiritual direction in us that keeps getting stronger and younger every day!

May He who was born in a cave and lay in a manger for our salvation bless you always. 

+Bishop Anthony

Bishop of Toledo
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America 

St. Matthew the Evangelist Antiochian Orthodox Church Hosts Bishop Anthony

From November 10–14, 2016, St. Matthew the Evangelist Antiochian Orthodox Church in North Royalton, Ohio was blessed to share in the teaching, preaching, leading, and fellowship of His Grace Bishop Anthony. Sayedna travels to St. Matthew annually about this time of year to visit and help the parish celebrate St. Matthew’s day. This year parishioners were grateful to be able to spend nearly five days enjoying the sweet aroma that always accompanies his godly counsel. 

In previous years Bishop Anthony has enlightened the faithful of St. Matthew with retreats on the Holy Spirit, current issues facing the Church, and on the liturgical year. This year members and visitors were treated to the endearing teaching style and scholarly wisdom that embodies Bishop Anthony as he conducted a three-session teaching entitled The Second Coming of Christ.

Important Updates: Read the December 2016 Midwest SOYO Newsletter

Christ is in Our Midst! He is and Ever Shall Be!

Our December newsletter is now available for your information and encouragement. The Midwest Board hopes that you are having a fulling first semester of school! If you couldn't already tell, the year is flying by! Unfortunately, Midwest SOYO did not meet this fall for our annual gathering. We do hope that you were able to attend the Fall Gathering in Madison for the other organizations. To keep up with what we're doing on the Midwest level, we encourage you all to stay connected through our social media pages! We post weekly on our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter pages! Additionally, this year Midwest SOYO is trying out having videos to discuss items coming up in the Diocese. Be sure to look out for our December video and future ones to come!

Antiochian Village Bookstore Christmas Flyer Available

Here’s the AV Bookstore 2016 Christmas flyer, to help you in your holiday shopping! Find gifts for the people on your list – from kids to grandparents, and friends of all ages!  There are new books this year, including a newly released revised edition of Helen Corey’s classic cookbook Foods from Biblical Lands. And there is a selection of beautiful ornaments featuring the Nativity scene, as well as St. Nicholas and St. Basil.  

The images in the flyer are linked to the Bookstore, so click and shop!  Major credit cards accepted.

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.

Choir and Chanter Appreciation Sunday Message from Paul Jabara

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, 

This Sunday marks a very special day for us. It is Choir and Chanter Appreciation Sunday. Anyone who attends an Orthodox service is immediately lifted by the sheer beauty of the music. If it weren’t for the tireless efforts of our chanters, choir members and conductors, congregations would not be elevated by the stunning hymnography of the Church, but by words alone. 

Dedicating one’s musical gift to God is truly a labor of love. Not only are singers needed at just about every service, each of those services comes with prior rehearsal and planning. Church singers devote many hours each week learning new music and reviewing old, working on their technique so they can sound better for those in prayerful attendance. The more beautiful the music, after all, the more beautiful the prayer.

New Music CD Released by SOYO and the Department of Sacred Music: Digital Download Available

A beautiful new music CD, Grace Shining Forth, has just been released in time for holiday gift giving! The CD is a collaborative effort of SOYO, the Department of Sacred Music, and the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries. Discounts are available for quantities of five or more. Shop now, and receive your order in time for Christmas. More information is available on the Teen SOYO website.

 
Download digital version
Order your Grace Shining Forth Music CD

 

Vendor Registration for 2017 Archdiocese Convention Now Open

 

 

The 2017 Archdiocese Convention Committee announces with excitement that Vendor Registration is NOW OPEN! The commitment to raise Convention standards is proven once again with the efforts to make vendors proud of being a part of the Antiochian Archdiocese's Convention to be held in July 2017 in Miami, Florida. Vendors will have the opportunity to choose the space of their liking from a convenient layout published alongside the Vendor Registration Form on the 2017 Archdiocese Convention Website. In addition, online Registration also available.

Great exposure awaits all vendors, who will be signed up on a "First come, first serve" basis. With over 2000 attendees expected, this Convention promises to help all the faithful benefit from the great work of the Orthodox vendors in this country and abroad. See you in July 2017, God willing!

Metropolitan Joseph Presents Posthumous Award to Trustee Sondra Murr Love

On Wednesday, November 23, 2016, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph presented Marcia Terry, sister of the late Archdiocesan Trustee Sondra Murr Love, and Sondra's sister-in-law Charlotte Murr, with the Cross of the Gold Order of St. Raphael. The Cross was given as a posthumous honor in recognition of Sondra's "distinguished service of exceptional merit, rendered with generous and unselfish dedication" on behalf of and to the Archdiocese. Sondra reposed in the Lord in September of this year. 

The Cross commemorates the 100th year of the repose of St. Raphael, Bishop of Brooklyn (1915–2015), whose life exemplified tireless labor for the Church's mission in North America. While presenting the award, Metropolitan Joseph also visited with Marcia and Charlotte at the West Coast Chancery. The two sisers were accompanied by their pastor, the Very Rev. Timothy Baclig of St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church of Van Nuys, California. Marcia, Charlotte, and Fr. Timothy were grateful for Sayidna Joseph's tribute to their beloved sister.

Metropolitan Joseph Honored at NYC Ecumenical Gathering

View the Facebook gallery

On November 29, 2016, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph was honored along with the recently appointed Syriac Archbishop John Kawak, in an ecumenical gathering at the St. Vartan Armenian Orthodox Cathedral in New York City. The gathering, hosted by His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), celebrated the occasion of the enthronements of Metropolitan Joseph and Archbishop John; due to scheduling issues, the event had been postponed several times.

Hierarchs and clergy from throughout the New York area were present, including: His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon, primate of the Orthodox Church in America; Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Papal Nuncio to the United Nations; Maronite Bishop Gregory Mansour, and many others from various Christian faith communities.

St. George Church in Canton, OH to Host Annual Basketball Tournament

 

 

 


The Midwest Teen SOYO Basketball Tournament will take place in Canton, Ohio on January 13–15, 2017. Please see the flier below for a full schedule, and the liability form, which every teen must submit in order to participate. Sign up ASAP!

Bishop Anthony Visits University of Michigan's OCF

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
by Mark Sultani, President of University of Michigan OCF
November, 2016
 
The Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor was recently blessed to be visited by His Grace Bishop Anthony of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest.  A group of approximately 30 college students attended the event where His Grace, a University alumnus, spoke on the topic, "God's Plan of Action for My Purpose in Life."
 
His Grace presented his talk in his usual joyous and intelligent manner. The topic was especially pertinent to us as college students, since our schedules have little routine and our futures seem both impossibly distant and frighteningly close. The words of His Grace brought peace to our minds as he spoke of the relationship we can have with a Creator who cares more that we are people of mercy, compassion, and love, than He cares whether we are lawyers, engineers, or doctors.  We learned our vocation is to recognize and experience that relationship with God, reflecting His glory on the earth. 
 
The impact His Grace left on our OCF has had us talking about his visit for weeks! We were grateful to be visited by His Grace and looks forward to his next visit.

December Liturgical Texts Now Available

St. Barbara of Heliopolis in Syria (left), and St. John of DamascusSt. Barbara of Heliopolis in Syria (left), and St. John of DamascusTwo saints with a strong following and devotion in the Patriarchate of Antioch, as well as the prophets and ancestors of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ Himself, are celebrated in the weeks leading up to Christmas. The Liturgical Texts for December, blessed by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, are now ready for clergy and laity to download from the Online Liturgical Guide.

We celebrate two Syrian saints on December 4. Saint Barbara of Heliopolis left the protection of her father's tower and learned of the true Christian faith from pious women. Once St. Barabara accepted Christ, her father martyred her, but a lightning bolt struck his house and killed him.

St. James the Apostle Orthodox Church of Westminster, Maryland Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary

O holy James
As a disciple of the Lord you received the Gospel
As a martyr, you displayed an unyielding will
As a brother of the Lord you have special power with Him
As a hierarch you have the right of intercession
Intercede therefore with Christ our God
That He may save our souls!

With these words, the faithful of St. James the Apostle Orthodox Church celebrated the tenth anniversary of their founding as the first canonical Orthodox Church in Carroll County, Maryland. Sayidna Thomas, joined by Fr. Gregory Mathewes-Green and clergy and faithful of local parishes of many jurisdictions, entreated our Holy God to look down with favor on His Church in our locality.

AFR Posts Audio of Bishop Anthony Series on Second Coming

Bishop Anthony of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest spoke on November 11–12, 2016 at St. Matthew the Evangelist Antiochian Orthodox Church in North Royalton, OH. Thank you, Fr. Andrew Harmon, for allowing Ancient Faith Radio to record this enlightening series by His Grace!

Listen now

2017 Diocese of Worcester Parish Life Conference

The 2017 Diocese of Worcester Parish Life Conference will be hosted by St. George Cathedral, Worcester, MA. The dates are June 17, 2017 and June 23–25, 2017.

Please check back for more information.

2017 Diocese of Charleston/New York Parish Life Conference

The 2017 Diocese of Charleston/New York Parish Life Conference will be hosted by St. George Church in Little Falls, NJ. Dates are Thursday to Sunday, June 29–July 2, 2017.

Please check back for more information.

Memory Eternal! + Sadie Shaheen

Sadie Shaheen passed away November 14, 2016 at the age of 86, from pancreatic cancer.

Affectionately known as "Dooda," Sadie was the daughter of Fr. George and Khouria Mary Shaheen. Born in Canton, Ohio, she spent the early years of her life growing up in Katana, Syria. She returned to Canton at the age of 16 and graduated from Lehman High School, barely speaking English. She married Carl Shaheen on September 4, 1949 and a new chapter began. Sadie was a warm and welcoming hostess and a wonderful cook, especially of mid-eastern food – her home and her heart always open to family, friends and soon-to-be friends from near and far. Her Sunday brunches, Monday girls' nights, and Thursday morning breakfasts were regular weekly features! She especially loved children and was passionate about supporting three orphanages in Syria through the Crusaders Organization, inspired by her brother, Archbishop Michael Shaheen, 50 years ago. On October 23, 2016, she was awarded the Antiochian Archdiocese Meritorious Service Award for her charitable works. Besides the Crusaders, she was a member of the Ladies of St. George and the Phoenician Auxiliary.

Brooklyn, NY Newspaper Features Festal Services for St. Raphael

(Photo by Denise Alexander)(Photo by Denise Alexander)On November 14, 2016, reporter John Alexander of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle featured St. Nicholas Cathedral's services for St. Raphael, in his article "Brooklyn's own St. Raphael venerated at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral." 

The article recounts the story of St. Raphael's life, and explains the significance of the beloved saint to the faithful of the Antiochian Archdiocese and the greater Orthodox community. "St. Raphael was the first Orthodox bishop to be consecrated in America from any ethnic background," Cathedral Dean the Very Reverend Thomas Zain is quoted as saying in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle article.

Read the full story in the Daily Eagle

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