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OCMC Mission Team Sign Ups Open for 2011

St. Augustine, FL – In 2010, the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) sent 119 people on short-term mission teams around the world to offer a living witness to the Orthodox Christian faith through loving service and fellowship. Orthodox Mission Team opportunities are now available for 2011, and by the prayers of the Faithful in North America, OCMC hopes that even more people will answer the call to share in a journey of faith by spending one to three weeks abroad teaching the faith, providing healthcare, participating in outreach, ministering to youth, or helping to build and maintain churches.

Please contact Andrew Lekos or Pres. Renee Ritsi by phone at 1-877-GO-FORTH (463-6784) or by e-mail at teams@ocmc.org for more information. Visit the website here for additional details about, or to apply for, 2011 OCMC Orthodox Mission Teams.

House of Studies Alumni Society Formed

Visiting Fort LigonierVisiting Fort LigonierOn September 3, 2010, under the guidance of Bishop Thomas and Fr. Joseph Allen, the Antiochian House of Studies created the framework for the new AHOS Alumni Society. Writes the Rev. Martie Johnson Jr., U.S. Navy Chaplain and Association Vice President, "On this historic day, after some eight full hours of meetings, nearly thirty students erected the framework for the AHOS Alumni Society under the auspices of Bishop Thomas and Father Joseph.  The By-Laws, Board of Directors, and Officers are now in place to take the next step of ratifying, reviewing, and fully implementing the follow-on elements necessary to launch this organization after the prayers and counsel of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America and Metropolitan Philip." Go here to view a photo gallery of the Village meetings.

Vice President Johnson's report reads as follows:

From:  AHOS Alumni Association Vice President

To:  His Grace Bishop Thomas

RE:  Report – Initiation and Planning Meeting for Alumni Association (ANECDOTAL)

Abstract:  On this, the thirtieth anniversary of our beloved Metropolitan Philip’s dream of educating the church and the world more fully in the Orthodox faith, the students of the AHOS, consistent with the vision and inspiration of Bishop Thomas and Very Reverend Joseph Allen, endeavored to construct a framework to establish an Alumni Association.

Antiochian Fr. Hans Jacobse Counters Atheism in OCF-Sponsored Debate

The University of Maryland's (Baltimore County) Orthodox Christian Fellowship, and the campus' Secular Student Alliance, co-hosted a formal debate on November 16. Titled "The Source of Human Morality," the discussion pitted well-known atheist Matt Dillahunty against the Antiochian priest and American Orthodox Institute President, the Rev. Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse. About 450 people attended the lively exchange, which is posted for viewing on YouTube in nine installments.

Fr. George Morelli Offers Resources For Clergy and Laity

Priest and clinical psychologist Fr. George Morelli has published a treasure trove of informative, insightful articles readily available on this website. In his Chaplain's Corner, Father addresses pastoral concerns with a frank and practical approach. His "Good Marriage" articles blend the best of current psychological insight with the writings of the Fathers, and in-depth reflections such as "Beauty-the Divine Connection," draw extensively from both his clinical experience and his knowledge of Scripture and Holy Tradition. In his recent treatise, The Ethos of Orthodox Catechesis (published in six parts), Fr. George examines in depth the singular Orthodox approach to catechism, and how parents, teachers and pastors can integrate a truly Orthodox ethos in their teaching ministries. 

Conciliar Media Messenger, Nov. 2010, Features Interviews and Profiles

This month, in keeping with the theme of our new release, Letters to Saint Lydia, our Conciliar Media newsletter Messenger is focusing on saints and icons. We have an interview with Melinda Johnson, the author of Letters to Saint Lydia; a feature about Paul Hibberd, who mounts icons for Conciliar Press; an icon-related announcement from AFR; a look at some children’s books that focus on saints and icons; and an excerpt from Fr. Patrick Reardon’s book on the saints of the Bible, Christ in His Saints.

Fr. Aaron Warwick Reviews Fr. Tarazi's Book, Land and Covenant

From The Word, November, 2010

Fr. Paul Tarazi’s book, Land and Covenant, is a must-read for Orthodox Christians or anyone else who desires to acquire a Scriptural mindset. When I decided to read Land and Covenant I was expecting a technical and academic study of precise biblical terms – land and covenant. Although the book is certainly precise and intellectually deep, it was written in a manner that would make it understandable and appreciated by those with little prior biblical knowledge. In the end, Land and Covenant is a brilliant summary of the entire body of Scripture (from Genesis to Revelation), showing clearly how the message of Jesus Christ to all nations and people had always been God’s will, from the very beginning (Genesis 1). The most disappointing aspect of Land and Covenant is the book’s title: it is so much more than a study of these technical terms!

A consistent theme emerged in my reading of Land and Covenant, one that is present throughout Scripture and is also very much present in the tradition of the Orthodox Desert Fathers: non-possessiveness. Fr. Tarazi indicates that his desire to write Land and Covenant stemmed from the common misreading of the Bible that has led to much bloodshed over who “owns” the Holy Land. By offering a purely Scriptural – as opposed to political or historical – critique of the current situation in the Holy Land, Fr. Tarazi shows that the wrong question is being asked. Scripturally, God is the only “owner” of any land; we humans who were taken from the earth are given the gift of a certain earth/land on which we may subside, but it is never our property – all things belong to God. Likewise, no human society “possesses” God – He is the God of all people and all creation.

November 21 is IOCC Sunday: "A Day of Sharing"

As Orthodox Christians finish up the first week of the Nativity Fast and prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) will be observing IOCC Sunday on November 21. Themed "A Day of Sharing," the event will be spotlighting the ministry of IOCC at parishes all across the United States. Orthodox Christians are being encouraged to:

  1. Make a generous donation to support the humanitarian work of the IOCC
  2. Become a volunteer for the organization
  3. Become a Parish Representative (information available here)
  4. Participate in a local IOCC Event and
  5. Pray for all those in need.

For more information, or to download Sunday bulletin inserts, go the IOCC website's special section devoted to IOCC Sunday.

Old Testament Women at The Annunciation: Gleanings from the Western Rite Lectionary

From The Word, November 2010

Not All by Herself

Orthodox believers of both the Eastern and Western Rites celebrate major feast days in honor of the events in the life of the Theotokos. St. Luke records three of these important occurrences: the Annunciation, March 25 (1:26–38), the Visitation, July 2 (1:39–56), and the Presentation, February 2 (2:21–39). A common feature in the three stories is that our Lady is never alone; other people share in the events of her life.

'Mary deliberately goes to be with her cousin Elizabeth after Mary’s annunciation. Mary is not alone at the Temple when she presents the infant Jesus, because the Gospel tells us that at least her husband, Joseph, the priest, and Saints Simon and Anna are there for the occasion. Mary’s annunciation itself, however, seems a little different. Yes, the archangel Gabriel comes to her, but he leaves after delivering his message, and we do not read that she has anyone else with her. Or, does she?

In fact, those who attend Orthodox Western Rite parishes discover in the lectionary readings for the Feast of the Annunciation that five women from the Old Testament spiritually join with the Blessed Virgin Mary. These women, in order of their liturgical appearance, are Eve, Sarah, the Psalmist’s royal Queen, the conceiving Virgin in Isaiah, and Hannah.

Children's Relief Fund Holiday Appeal

 November 2010 

In as much as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me. (Matt. 25: 40) 

Dearly Beloved in Christ,

As we anticipate celebrating God’s greatest gift to mankind in the Nativity of our blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we greet you once again, and pray that you continue to receive the gifts of His love and His peace. 

Christmas is that time of year when we are especially reminded to share our blessings with others in the form of gifts. It becomes an increased blessing when the privilege of giving is extended to provide partial education scholarships to needy children in Lebanon and Palestine. 

Because of your generosity in past years through the “Christmas Appeal” of the Children’s Relief Fund, we have been able to increase the number of sponsored children from 206 in 2003 to 333 in 2009. Currently, CRF is sponsoring 343 children in Lebanon and 40 in Palestine. 

The necessity to continue our work is now more challenging as more and more children are in need of financial assistance (we have some 90 applications of children waiting to be sponsored). 

For those of you who are already sponsoring a child, we offer you our most profound thanks and gratitude, and we ask for your continued support. We encourage all the faithful in the Archdiocese to support our cause. 

New sponsors are encouraged to open a window of concern by sponsoring an individual needy child at a minimum of $300 annually or making a donation to the general fund. Please print out the application HERE and mail it. 

CHILDREN'S RELIEF FUND DONATION FORM

 

 

 

 

 


 

ENCLOSED

■■ is my charitable gift of $________________ to sponsor a child ($300.00/year).

■■ is a donation of $________________. We cannot sponsor a child at this time, but would like to contribute to the general fund.

Please provide the following: (information remains private)

Donor(s) ___________________________________________________________________________________

Address ____________________________________________________________________________________

City_______________________________________State__________________________Zip________________

E-mail _____________________________________________________________________________________

I prefer to sponsor a: Boy ________ Girl ________ No Preference ________

From Lebanon ________ From Palestine ________ No Preference ________

All contributions are tax-deductible. Please detach and return with your donation to

Children’s Relief Fund

c/o The Very Rev. George M. Rados

P. O. Box 60692

Potomac, MD 20859

Thank you for caring about children.

Beyond My Eyes

By Janice Bidwell

The color of my brown eyes will never change. My eye color is a constant part of me from start to finish, and most days I don’t give the color of my eyes a second glance. When I’m in a sea of blue eyes, my brown eyes feel very brown.

"Flip Flops For Haiti" Project Delivers Thousands of Shoes

Josephine Katzbach ("Josie"), a parishioner at St. Matthew Orthodox Church in North Royalton, Ohio, has returned from Haiti, where she successfully delivered 2200 flip flops for those in need.  

An experience in Haiti was the source for Josie’s idea. Months ago while she worked there in a clinic building project, several aid workers had to escort an ill woman from a clinic in town back up the mountain. Struck by her lack of material possessions, Josie literally gave the woman the clothes off her back, with the exception of her flip-flops, the only shoes that would fit Josie's swollen feet. So when she and her friend returned to Chicago, inspiration struck and Josie said, “Hey, I have an idea. Let’s do ‘flip-flops for Haiti.’”

Josie is no stranger to helping others. She takes food and water to the homeless in Cleveland twice a month with parishioners from St. Matthew’s or St. George of Cleveland. A “life-changing experience”– that’s how Josie describes her first trip to Haiti. Although the city’s poverty and devastation are great, the poverty is even more extreme in the mountains. “They are the poorest of the poor,” says Katzbach. The earthquake did not have as much of an effect on them; instead, poverty is a way of life.

On October 26, 2010, St. Matthew's held a fund raiser: "Flip Flops For Haiti All You Can Eat Italian Dinner." All proceeds went to benefit shipping and the distribution of flip flops. Josie's husband Mark and her sister Antonette chaired the affair, and the people of St. Matthew came forward and ate and gave, enabling Josephine to return to Haiti with several thousand shoes. Josie was able to distribute several hundred, while a Catholic priest and nun offered to deliver the remaining shoes to those in need.

St. Athanasius Academy: Ministering for 34 Years

St. Athanasius publicationSt. Athanasius publicationThirty four years ago, a group of evangelical Christians on the road to Orthodoxy founded St. Athanasius Academy with the vision of serving the Church through long distance study programs, theological studies, and research. From the start, they strategically focused on publishing materials for the laity, as well as producing audio and video tapes, and ultimately, the Orthodox Study Bible. Fifteen years ago, the Academy began to minister to prisoners who were discovering the Orthodox faith through their Prisoner Education Program, which provides study scholarships to qualifying students. Current Academy Director Paul Goetz says, "We have a steady prisoner-student list of 100 active prisoners. And we mean active. We grade and respond to nearly 120 lessons per month. Their enthusiasm is marvelous."

Adds Goetz, "Along with our Correspondence Division (its primary focus being the laity), and our Prisoner Education Project, we continue publishing our research. We are providing live classes – even webcam studies – on the Orthodox philosophy of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, Orthodox theology, studies the Book of Romans and the Gospel of John, and monastic principles for non-monastics. Even here, we provide detailed study notes based on the renowned Fathers of the Church."

Recently, antiochian.org interviewed Paul Goetz about the ongoing work of St. Athanasius Academy. Read the interview in full here.

Listen to an interview with Fr. Jack Sparks, St. Athanasius Founder, here, and listen to Part II here.  

Paul Goetz Explains the Ministry of St. Athanasius Academy

St. Athanasius publicationSt. Athanasius publication1. Most of us are familiar with the name "St. Athanasius Academy," but we're less familiar with who you are. Can you refresh our memories by telling us a bit about your ministry--how it was started, the role Fr. Jack Sparks played for years, and what your focus is today?

People ask me about who I am.  Yet please know, even after I tell you something about myself, I am only trying to be a worthy mouthpiece  for that which Fr. Jack Sparks and Fr. Richard taught me, along with the spiritual insight gain from working with them on the OSB-Septuagint Old Testament Project, published in 2008.  These men were profound influences in my life and their love for Christ Jesus and His teachings, remains with me and saved my life in times of great illness. My name is Paul Goetz and began working with St. Athanasius Academy after first meeting Fr. Jack Sparks and Fr. Jon Braun in Los Gatos, CA in 1992.  I later met Fr. Richard Ballew in 1993, and this sealed within me the need and commitment to change priorities. I left my chosen profession of 15 years and began working with Fr. Jack while the Academy was yet in Ben Lomond.  

Center for Family Care Releases Results of Study on Orthodox Family Life

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Center for Family Care has just completed its first study: "The Orthodox Family in America at Home and in Church." Information came from 646 respondents from 100 Greek Orthodox parishes, all of whom had children 18 and under living at home. In addition, the priests from these parishes filled out a survey as well.

The study examined the following:

  1.  Religious practices at church and home
  2.  Main stressors experienced
  3.  Availability of parish support
  4.  Interest in workshops and knowledge of current supports
  5.  Significant predictors of increased religious and spiritual practices at home and at church

Go HERE to view the results in their entirety.

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese's Center For Family Care, in the words of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, exists “both to affirm the importance of the family as a blessed gift of God and to address the specific needs of families as they try to live in a very challenging culture and world. As Orthodox Christians, we know that each and every family needs to be connected to the Church—a place where true relationships with God and one another are nurtured and sustained. Thus, through this program we will be working to bring more aspects of our faith into the home and to bring more families into the Church.” The Center provides resources such as parish family night ideas, parent training seminars and retreats, resources for marriage, family prayer, study and Gospel reading, and outreach ideas such as family mission teams.

2010 Clergy Wives Weekend Inspires and Refreshes

By Valerie Zahirsky

“Everywhere Present and Filling All Things”: The Holy Spirit or the Clergy Wife? was the theme of the second annual Clergy Wives Weekend, held at Antiochian Village in Ligonier, PA from October 29-31. Over 70 wives of priests, deacons, and wives of seminarians headed for ordination from all across the country – including Alaska! - came together for this pan-Orthodox weekend of prayer, reflection and informal, enjoyable fellowship.

The program included a welcome on Friday night by Maria Abdalah, daughter of Kh. Joanne Abdalah – in whose memory the Weekend is dedicated. Presenting a short overview of the Weekend’s focus, and how we have experienced the Holy Spirit since the dawn of creation, Kh. Stefanie Yazge set the stage for the Weekend’s speakers. The evening concluded with Little Compline. (Click HERE to view a photo gallery of the weekend.)

How St. Nicholas Church, Cedarburg, Came to Be

The following is an excerpt from Fr. William Olnhausen's new book, A Modern, American Orthodox Pastor

December 6, 2006

I am convinced that in the year 1985 earth time, the Lord Jesus must have said to Saint Nicholas, "We need an Orthodox church on the north side of Milwaukee. Go work on that Olnhausen fellow."

On Knowing God

By Bishop Alexander

In the Gospel we read on the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council (John17:1-13), Jesus says in what is commonly known as His High Priestly prayer: "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."

His Grace Bishop Joseph Leads Pilgrimage to the Middle East

Bishop Joseph and pilgrims at St. Ananias House on Straight StreetBishop Joseph and pilgrims at St. Ananias House on Straight StreetBy the grace of God, a pilgrimage led by His Grace Bishop Joseph, has arrived safely in Damascus, Syria, where it will begin a journey spanning three countries over the next two weeks. Upon arriving in Damascus, the delegation was received in the VIP reception room at the airport and then proceeded to St. Christophoros Monastery in Saydnaya. The group had dinner and celebrated Sayidna's 60th Birthday.

The sixteen delegates will first visit Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East and the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Dormition (“al-Mariamiyeh”) and Headquarters in the “old city.” Over the course of the trip, the group will travel throughout Syria, Lebanon and southern Turkey. The delegates will visit various monasteries, churches, and historic sites in these countries, including Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Antioch (present-day Antakya in Turkey), where “the Disciples were first called Christians” (Acts 11:26). This pilgrimage will be documented daily with text and photos, HERE.

Orthodox Hierarchs Meet with President Obama

WASHINGTON, DC (OCA) - His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, was among some two dozen US religious leaders who met with President Barack Obama here on Monday, November 1, 2010 “to speak for the millions of Americans struggling to find jobs, make their next rent or mortgage payment, and put food on the table,” according to a press release issued by the National Council of Churches [NCC].

Also attending the meeting were His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and His Eminence, Archbishop Khajag S. Barsamian of the Armenian Church of America.

While the leaders of both the National Council of Churches and Church World Service, the global humanitarian agency, thanked President Obama for passage of health reform legislation and for his robust engagement with the faith community, they also pressed him “to take a strong stance on behalf of families facing poverty and hunger."

According to Metropolitan Jonah, poverty, education, the Middle East Peace Process, and unemployment were among the other issues discussed at the 45 minute meeting, which took place in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.

“The President warmly received the group of religious leaders, who represent about 45 to 50 million Americans,” Metropolitan Jonah said. “The leaders who spoke thanked the President for his leadership in these various issues and pledged to work together with him in the future to further these goals for the betterment of the human condition.”

Fr. Alexander Atty Installed as Dean and CEO of St. Tikhon's Seminary

From Byztex Blogspot:

SOUTH CANAAN, PA (OCA) - Archpriest Alexander Atty was formally installed as Dean and Chief Operating Officer of Saint Tikhon's Seminary here on Saturday, October 30, 2010.

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah and His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania, the seminary's Rector, concelebrated the formal installation Service of Thanksgiving at Saint Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church, Wilkes-Barre, PA. Father Alexander is the first priest of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese to hold the position, with the blessing of His Eminence, Metropolitan Philip.

In presenting the Dean's pectoral cross to Father Alexander, Metropolitan Jonah expressed his personal joy, not only because of Father Alexander's 30 years of hard work and successful parish ministry, but because of the vision of a united Orthodox Church in North America he possesses.

Prior to his appointment as Dean, Father Alexander served as pastor of one of the nation's largest pan-Orthodox parishes, Saint Michael the Archangel Antiochian Orthodox Church, Louisville, KY. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the University of Philadelphia, a Master of Divinity from Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, and a Doctorate in Ministry from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

At the banquet that followed, the hierarchs offered greetings, as did members of the Saint Tikhon's Board of Trustees. Offering greetings on behalf of the faculty and student body of Saint Vladimir's Seminary, Crestwood, NY, was Archpriest John Behr, Dean.

Father Alexander, who officially assumed duties on July 1, 2010, is joined at the seminary by his wife, Khouria Olga, and their two children, Katherine and Alexander.

New Conciliar Media Call Center to Open Nov. 8

Nancy ColacovicNancy ColacovicFrom the Conciliar Media Messenger: We are delighted to introduce to you the newest member of our Conciliar Press community: our customer service manager, Nancy Colakovic. Nancy comes to us from Narrow Path Bookstore in Lansing, Illinois, where she served for 15 years. She has a deep love for God and the Orthodox faith, a broad familiarity with Orthodox literature, a passion for customer service, and a long-standing affection for Conciliar Press.

Nancy says, “It was a mere 15 years ago that Conciliar Press helped to spark the beginnings of a small church bookstore of which God allowed me to be a part; I will never forget the help and support which I received at that time and throughout the ensuing years from the gracious staff of Conciliar Press. By His providence, the Lord has opened a new door for me and the opportunity to grow, I pray, from those learning experiences—to be there for you when you call Conciliar Press with your inquiries. I thank God and all those who have made it possible for me to join the Conciliar Press team; and I pray for His guidance and strength as we, our entire team, strive to serve all of you and meet or exceed your expectations for the glory of God.”

Utah Parish Hosts Hierarchs and Laity at OCL Meeting

OCL Dinner at Sts. Peter and PaulOCL Dinner at Sts. Peter and PaulOrthodox Christian Laity's website reports that the Antiochian parish in Salt Lake City hosted OCL's 23rd Annual Meeting on October 15-16. Notes the site, "Following Friday 6:00 pm Vespers at Saints Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church hosted by Father Justin and his community, a joyous and informative fellowship and pot luck discussion followed. The topic was: 'The Impressions of His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah and His Eminence Archbishop Nathaniel concerning the completion of the gathering of all Canonical Orthodox Bishops in May 2010 in New York to begin the process of developing a unifed Orthodox Church in the United States.'

Friday night program speakers included His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah and His Eminence Archbishop, providing their impressions of the May meeting of Bishops and the work that needs to be done...(towards) a unified Orthodox Church in the United States. The audience was attentive and asked good questions. Many were amazed on how difficult it is to become Orthodox Christians."

Missions Conference Audio Now Available on AFR

The sessions of the Department of Missions and Evangelism's fall conference are now available from Ancient Faith Radio. Topics and speakers recorded at the conference include Fr. Wilbur Ellsworth ("Out of the Closet and Into the World"); Deacon Michael Hyatt ("The Pre-denominational Christ for a Post-Christian America"); Fr. Nicholas Triantafilou ("Evangelism in the Early Church"), and Fr. Peter Gillquist (The Gospel of the Kingdom"). The Conference is an annual event, where Orthodox Christians of all jurisdictions gather for teaching and fellowship.

FOCUS North America Awards Grants to Project Mexico and Others

Boys at Project MexicoBoys at Project MexicoFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 26, 2010 – Kansas City, MO

In addition to serving the poor by establishing operational ministries and supplying parishes with needed resources for ministry a key part of the missions of FOCUS North America is to support existing Orthodox ministries facilitating or working directly with those most in need. This year FOCUS North America through the generosity of the Orthodox Vision Foundation, made grants to several ministries. The largest was awarded to Project Mexico which received $15,000 for its tremendous work. FOCUS North America gave away a total of $45,000 in grants to new and existing FOCUS Partner Ministries. (Go online for a complete list of FOCUS Partners.)

Mr. Geoff Bray, Executive Director of Project Mexico said, “Project Mexico and FOCUS North America are two Orthodox ministries engaged in service to the poor. The beauty of the cooperation between the two is that Americans or Canadians can come to Project Mexico, become inspired through their experience to continue to do God’s work, and then work with FOCUS North America in their home countries to channel that ongoing desire to serve. The connection between short term foreign missions even overseas and domestic ministry with the poor in the Orthodox Church has never been stronger! We thank FOCUS North America for their support of Project Mexico and St. Innocent Orphanage.”

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