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SOYO Reaches 40: 40 Years of Raising Generations of Disciples & Leaders

By V. Rev. Dr. Joseph F. Purpura

Forty years ago, the WORD Magazine recorded that during the Miami Convention of 1969 NAC (Teen) SOYO under the direction of his Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP elected its first President Mr. Robert Laham Jr. The teens were previously a committee of (Senior) SOYO (Senior SOYO is currently known as the Fellowship of St John the Divine). His Eminence with the help of Helen E. Rihbany, the National Teenage Chairwoman of Senior SOYO, set the following as priorities for this Teen Movement in the archdiocese, as found in Helen’s report to the General Assembly.

Very Rev. Fr. Paul Moses + Memory Eternal!

The Very Rev. Fr. Paul Moses passed away on Saturday, 23 May 2009. His funeral
will be at 11:30 am on Saturday, 30 May at St. George Orthodox Church in
Orlando, FL. The internment will be on Monday 1 June in the Melbourne, FL
area with the assistance of St. Anthony the Great, Melbourne, FL, a mission
founded by Fr. Paul. Fr. Ernesto M. Obregon of St. Anthony the Great Orthodox mission
of Melbourne, FL has prepared this remembrance.

Archdiocese Bishops To Meet Patriarch IGNATIUS IV In Damascus

During the first week of June, His Grace Bishop ANTOUN, His Grace Bishop JOSEPH, His Grace Bishop BASIL, His Grace Bishop THOMAS, His Grace Bishop MARK, and His Grace Bishop ALEXANDER will travel to Damascus, Syria at the invitation of His Beatitude IGNATIUS IV, Patriarch of Antioch and all of the East. They will meet with His Beatitude on June 3rd and June 4th to discuss the decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch dated February 24th, 2009 which specified the status of all bishops across the See of Antioch as that of Auxiliary Bishops.

His Beatitude has also announced that the regular Spring meeting of the Holy Synod of Antioch will take place on Tuesday June 16, 2009. His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP is planning to be present for the regular Spring meeting of the Holy Synod of Antioch.

For a listing of all posts on this site pertaining to the Synod's Feb. 24 decision, please click here.

Antiochian Author Dr. Bradley Nassif Wins Evangelical Press Association Award

The Evangelical Press Association awarded Dr. Bradley Nassif second place for one of the best articles in a series published in Christianity Today magazine. The series of articles asked several leading theologians  and church leaders the question "Why is our gospel so small?"  The award winning article was published in May 2008, and titled "The Poverty of Love."  It focused on wisdom taken from sayings and stories from the desert Fathers and Mothers.

Click here to read The Poverty of Love.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Nassif.

Call No Man Father?

by Douglas Cramer

The Orthodox Christian Church has since the time of Christ nurtured and raised up a way of understanding the world, of understanding ourselves, and understanding our walk with God that is a unique treasure often unheard, unheralded and unshared. Our's is a living faith, a living Tradition of how to follow Christ. Let's consider an easily-overlooked passage from St. Paul's first Epistle to the Corinthians. It is a crucial reference point in one small tradition of the Church, a tradition with large implications.

The passage, 1 Corinthians 4:14-16, reads: "I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Therefore I urge you, imitate me." The tradition reflected in this passage is one we still practice today - our tradition of calling our deacons and priests "father", and of referring to our Orthodox Christian spiritual elders through the century as "the Fathers of the Church."

Let's think about what we can learn from this tradition of calling our clergy and spiritual elders "Father". The traditional title "Father" points us towards the truth that our faith is a living thing, rather than simply a mere collection of ancient rituals. We are part of God's living, growing family - and our spiritual elders are called to a special role in that family. And this family's greatest task is to safeguard God's Holy Tradition.

New Design for Antiochian.org

Antiochian.org will be launching a new site design the first week of April. This is the last stage of a series of "under the hood" upgrades to the Archdiocese website, managed by the Department of Internet Ministry, over the past several months. We hope you find the new look refreshing and easier to use, and appreciate your patience with any difficulties with the transition. As always, we value any feedback or requests you have for us, which can be sent via email to editor@antiochian.org.

Our new site banner again features the work of Archdiocese iconographer Jan Isham. Jan's beautiful icons are available through Conciliar Press.

Metropolitan PHILIP Congratulates His Holiness KIRILL on His Election as Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia

His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP has written the newly elected Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia to congratulate him on his elevation. His Eminence writes in part:

"I have no doubt from our personal meetings and from your writings that you are a firm believer that the Orthodox Church cannot live in an ivory tower, but must reach out to the poor and needy and address the brokenness that exists throughout the entire world; a brokenness that only our Lord Jesus Christ can mend."

Click here to read Metropolitan PHILIP's letter in its entirety.

IOCC Announces Major Grant in Support of Iraq Ministry

image Constantine Triantafilou, Executive Director and CEO of International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) - a ministry supported by the Antiochian Archdiocese via the collective work of the bishops of SCOBA - sends word of the following blessed development:

"I am very pleased to announce that IOCC has secured a major grant that will provide food and emergency supplies to vulnerable families living in Sadr City, one of the poorest and most densely populated districts of Baghdad. The nearly $400,000 grant, awarded to IOCC by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), will assist about 2,400 vulnerable families in this predominantly Shiite area, which has been the site of continuous conflict. This program follows a very successful delivery by IOCC of food and hygiene kits to 3,000 families in Baghdad and Mosul. I commend our IOCC Iraqi staff who deliver these life-sustaining supplies while braving Iraq’s hardships."

Metropolitan PHILIP on the Vicariate for Palestinian/Jordanian Communities in the USA

image On August 7, His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP (Saliba), Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America released instructions for the clergy and faithful of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America regarding the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America's creation of a "Vicariate for Palestinian/Jordanian Communities in the USA." Our Archpastor's message begins:

"On August 5th, 2008, The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America issued a press release which established a vicariate with the name "Vicariate for Palestinian/Jordanian Communities in the USA". The membership of this vicariate will consist of those communities in the USA which were originally a part of the Patriarchate of Antioch, but most recently (since 1993) were uncanonically claimed by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. From an historical perspective, it has been clear since the disintegration of Orthodox unity which existed in North America until 1917, that the Arabic-speaking Orthodox people in North America have been exclusively under the pastoral care of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. Similarly, the Greek-speaking Orthodox people (e.g. Cypriot, Greek, Egyptian, Turkish, etc.) have always been under the pastoral care of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. What reaction would occur if the  Antiochian Archdiocese were to establish a vicariate for Greek communities which separate themselves from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese?!"

Click here to read His Eminence's official letter in full.

A Cloud of Witnesses: Saints and Martyrs from the Holy Land

image Metropolitan PHILIP, Primate of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, has this to say about A Cloud of Witnesses, the new book from Bishop Demetri (Matta) Khoury:

Bishop Demetri’s book, Saints and Martyrs from the Holy Land, is a great contribution to our Orthodox religious library and all those who are interested in the lives of the saints. Bishop Demetri was fortunate to be born not far from the gates of the holy city of Jerusalem. He walked where Jesus walked and breathed the same air which Jesus breathed. He spent his childhood in the shadow of Bethlehem, Nazareth, Mount Tabor, Calvary and the empty tomb. Palestine is a land of prophets, apostles, saints, martyrs and church fathers. We commend Bishop Demetri for writing this volume and we recommend it to all readers, Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike.

You can learn more about Bishop Demetri at his website, www.almoutran.com. And you can order A Cloud of Witnesses online here!

Bishop ALEXANDER Visits Camp Transfiguration

image On August 5, 2008, the eve of the Feast of the Transfiguration, Bishop ALEXANDER visited Camp Transfiguration, in its new location about an hour and 20 minutes from Montreal. It is nestled in the Laurentian mountains on the banks of a lake, and His Grace has provided the pictures below to share the beauty of this uplifting visit. By the grace of God, the direction of Alex Younes and Khalil Samara and the spiritual guidance of Fr. Michael Shaheen the camp has 108 participants, a good number of counselors and volunteers. The kitchen is headed by Salome Tannis, whose family donated the food. The campers are having a good time praying, fishing, sailing, playing ball and doing arts and crafts. Endless thanks go to every one who made this camp happen.

Inshallah next year we can increase the numbers and build more fellowship among our young ones. Pictures follow below.

Featured Mission: St. Raphael Antiochian Orthodox Mission, Iowa City, IA

image St. Raphael Antiochian Orthodox Mission

Iowa City, IA

Since our beginning in 2002, God has blessed our mission with “growth” in multiple senses of the word.  From an initial handful, our group has grown to include a roster of about 100, with Sunday liturgy attendance averaging 50-60. A large percentage of us are children.  Our members include “cradle” Orthodox and converts, representing many nationalities including Syrians, Russians, Ukrainians, Romanians, Greeks, Lebanese, Georgians and Americans, all worshipping together in English. We usually have a group of catechumens and several inquirers.  We are blessed to be truly pan-Orthodox!

Whether you live in Iowa City or elsewhere, we invite you to share in our life of prayer and worship and the building of this church.  If you live far away, you can participate through your prayers and donations, both to our mission and to missions across the archdiocese. We benefit every time you pray for us and commemorate us in the liturgy. And of course, we would welcome you with open arms if you ever happen to pass through our community!

Diocese of Toledo Featured Parishes

His Grace Bishop MARK chooses new parishes on an ongoing basis to offer up as icons of the life of Our Lord experienced in His communities.

Featured Parish: St. Mary Church + Berkley, MI

A new command I give you:  Love one another.   As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.  (John 13: 34-35.)

St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church is located in Berkley, MI.  We are a small community known for welcoming others.  We are a family, and as a family care about each other, and are very supportive of one another.  For the past fifteen years St. Mary's has been blessed with the ministry of Father George Baalbaki and his wonderful wife, Khouriye Iman. During their ministry the church has grown and been energized.

Featured Parish: St. George Church + West St. Paul, MN

The History of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church of West St. Paul, Minnesota

Adapted from our history compiled by Dr. George Droubie

The first Syrian and Lebanese immigrants arrived in Minnesota in the 1890's. In the St. Paul area they settled primarily on St. Paul's West Side. Dating from the arrival of the first Orthodox immigrants in St. Paul, they were informally organized as a religious group. Visiting priests held services in private homes. St. George Syrian Orthodox Church was formally organized and founded in 1913 on St. Paul's West Side. An Episcopal Church located at Clinton and Isabel streets was purchased and adapted for Orthodox liturgical needs. The church was officially dedicated in 1915 by Metropolitan Germanos Shehadi, at which time our first parish priest was ordained. Since then eighteen priests have served our parish, among them, V. Rev. Essa Kanavati and V. Rev. John G. Khoury. As the church building on the West Side began to deteriorate and parishioners moved out of the area surrounding the church, five acres of land in our current location were purchased in 1968 for a future complex. A multi-purpose hall was constructed during 1973 and our first service was held in February 1974.

Featured Parish: St. Nicholas Church + Grand Rapids, MI

St. Nicholas Church traces its history back to the early 1900’s, when Orthodox immigrants from the part of the Ottoman Empire then known as “Syria” began to come to Grand Rapids, Michigan. Many of these immigrants made their living initially as “peddlers,” selling their wares door-to-door as the city grew into a center of commerce and industry. As they became more prosperous, they opened stores of their own.  Others found employment in the city’s well-known furniture industry.

As early as 1906, the community was visited by traveling priests who served the recently arrived Orthodox immigrants scattered around the Midwest and concentrated in growing cities like Toledo and Fort Wayne. At least twice, Grand Rapids was visited by St. Raphael Hawaweeny, who encouraged the faithful to establish a church and who ordained and trained St. Nicholas’s first pastor, Father Philipous Abu-Assaley. Father Philipous was ordained in 1908. His youngest daughter, Rosemary Sears, still faithfully attends St. Nicholas.

Featured Parish: St. Nicholas Church + Cedarburg, WI

By early 1989, an Episcopalian priest named Father Bill Olnhausen and about twenty of his parishioners had discovered the wonders of Orthodoxy. They left their former church and, guided by Fr. Peter Gillquist, began preparations for a new Orthodox mission in the northern suburbs of Milwaukee.  In September 1989, when His Grace Bishop Antoun came to chrismate us and ordain Father Bill, he looked at our little group and whispered to Father Peter, “Is this all?”  But we were quickly joined by about fifteen “cradle” Orthodox, and so our Orthodox Mission began. 

For five years we rented space: first at a women’s club which was sold giving us only three weeks notice to move out, then since nothing else was available, in a dingy basement in a former schoolhouse out in the country. We had to set up and take down everything each weekend; even drinking water had to be carried in. Our first thought was that we must get out of here quickly; we’ll never grow here.  But we did grow. One of our members said, “This basement is more ‘church’ to me than anywhere I’ve ever attended.” During those five years, all of us learned what the Church really is - the people, not the building.

In December 1994 we purchased a spacious old former Lutheran church building in downtown Cedarburg. Saint Nicholas of Myra had been intimately involved in our founding, and as it turned out our first services in the new building were on Saint Nicholas Day. Then, to our delight, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip named us Saint Nicholas Church. 

Featured Parish: St. Mary Church + Iron Mountain, MI

Fr. Thomas Begley offers this account of the community of St. Mary Church in Iron Mountain, MI.

Recently, I traveled to Iron Mountain, Michigan for the deanery meeting with the clergy. Our Father in Christ, Bishop MARK, was there as well. His Grace has been with us for at least one of the two deanery meetings we have each year. Having the bishop present was an honor. His wisdom helped guide our discussions giving support to our clergy and our churches. What stood out, however, was His Grace and the clergy came for an additional purpose, which was to bless the soccer field the church built for the community.

St. Mary’s is a small parish in the western part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is an economically depressed area with city and county budgets stressed to the limit. Their priest, Fr. Mark Hagan, saw their parish losing members and unknown in the community. His answer to their dire situation was to reach out in Christ’s love to their community. Fr. Mark looked for a serious need that his church could help address in their community.

Fr. Mark discovered that there were 2,500 kids in and around Iron Mountain who were signed up for soccer. However, there were not enough soccer fields. The fields they used were in poor condition. Some of the kids played on a field given by a local company that had to have toxic gas vented out from beneath the field. Other fields were filled with rocks and had little or no grass. The church’s solution was to give property owned by the church to be leased by the soccer foundation for one dollar!

Featured Parish: St. George Church + Troy, MI

St. George is a parish of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. The mission of St. George Church is to serve God and the Greater Detroit Area by commitment to the Gospel Command and to grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ through faith, hope, and love. St. George Church follows the faith and practice of the Apostles and Disciples of Christ handed down by the ancient Christian fathers and twenty centuries of Church tradition. Genuine Christian life nurtures and stimulates our spiritual and moral development.

Featured Parish: St. George Church + Indianapolis, IN

St. George Orthodox Church of Indianapolis was established and a church building erected and consecrated in 1926.

As a charter member, St. George Progressives contributed greatly to the SOYO movement. St. George parishioners Nick Coba and John Daniluck, who had been founders of the Federation of Russian Orthodox Clubs (FROC), were instrumental in guiding the SOYO movement of their adopted parish and Archdiocese. In the fall of 1947, the newly organized group met in Indianapolis to complete a draft of the constitution and by-laws.

Featured Parish: St. George Church + Terre Haute, IN

St. George Orthodox Church of Terre Haute, Indiana, was founded by a few immigrants from Syria, more especially from Ein el Charra, a small village which nestles at the foot of Mount Hermon, southwest of Damascus. A constitution was drawn up and notarized on May 6, 1927 under the guidance of our first pastor, Metropolitan ANTONY (Bashir) of Thrice-Blessed Memory. Located seventy miles from any other Orthodox community, the years have allowed for the diversification of our Church. We are a warm and welcoming community made up of many of the original ancestors from Ein el Charra as well as others from Romanian, Greek, Russian ancestry as well as a formidable representation of those who have converted to the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Our Church family is loved and recognized throughout our community as being a place where people are welcomed and treated as family. Striving as we are commanded by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'...and to 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Should you ever find yourself visiting the "High Ground" (Terre Haute) come and worship with us!

Featured Parish: St. Mary Church + Iron Mountain, MI

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16)

History

St. Mary’s Church was founded in Iron Mountain, Michigan in the mid 1930’s by immigrants of many nationalities.  It is a jewel of the north, in what the Archdiocese could call “America’s Midwest Alaska.”  It was visited by St. Raphael himself on regular occasions.  It has deep snowy winters, scenic wilderness, unlimited wildlife and short picturesque summers.  Our church serves people of all backgrounds and nationalities in a 48,000-square-mile area.  Michigan's Upper Peninsula contains almost one-third of the state's land area, but just three percent of its total population. Parishioners travel as far as 100 miles on any given Sunday (even in deep snow) to attend Liturgy.

Featured Parish: St. Andrew Orthodox Church + Lexington, KY

St. Andrew Orthodox Church in Lexington, KY had its beginnings with 5 pioneering families meeting at a members home on the Feast of St. Andrew Nov. 30, 1979. Later the community asked the Archdiocese for the patronage of St. Andrew due its founding significance. From the beginning St. Andrew has been a Pan Orthodox, multi ethnic, English speaking, and mission minded community desiring to share the Orthodox faith with the greater Lexington area. From its humble origins of 5 families it has grown to serve a community of more than 100 familles with origins in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Greece, and converts from many Western European roots. Its diversity in ethnicity's are united by its Christ centered allegiance and the mission to both live out and spread the teachings of the Gospel.

Featured Parish: St. James + Loveland, OH

St. James Church in Loveland, Ohio is composed of several Arabic nationalities. The majority of its congregation are Jordanians. Prior to 1993 the Arabic Christian Orthodox community in Greater Cincinnati attended services at different churches in the area. Following the urge to found their own church, the community sought the aid of the Antiochian Archdiocese. In turn the Archdiocese provided Fr. George Shaheen as a temporary priest. Thanks to the commitment and dedication of the parishioners, the former Branch Hill elementary school was bought in 1995. The school's gym was converted to house the new church and Father Shaheen performed the dedication service in the presence of the parishioners and the media.

Featured Parish: St. George + Cedar Rapids, IA

Founded by a Saint

The parish of St. George of Cedar Rapids, Iowa has a long and rich history. Started in 1914 by a group of 25 Syrian and Lebanese immigrant families, St. George has evolved over the years into a multi-ethnic parish serving close to 200 families. The founding families had gathered in Cedar Rapids from several nearby farms and small towns and sought to build a church in order to help them raise their children in the Faith. Under the spiritual guidance of our Father among the Saints, RAPHAEL of Brooklyn, who presided at the first Divine Liturgy, those founding families managed to collect $4,000 in donations and borrow an additional $6,000 to finance the construction of their beloved St. George Church. Today, a shrine housing the icon of St. RAPHAEL, along with his Holy relic, stands along the north wall of the church sanctuary in recognition of his role in the founding of our parish.

Featured Parish: St. Mary's Church + Goshen, IN

In 1993 a group of Episcopalians lead by Reverend Father Antony Bell were chrismated in Toledo and soon formed St. Mary’s of the Dormition in Goshen, Indiana. For years the young group of Orthodox converts met in various places, including homes, the upper room of a local funeral home, and store-front rental facilities. The parish grew with their beloved priest Father Antony. Eventually they were able to purchase property in Topeka, Indiana, where they stayed for several years. Many of the faithful drove many miles to attend services out in the country area surrounding the small town of Topeka. The beloved people remained faithful and believed.
 
Unfortunately, their beloved leader and priest became ill with an aggressive form of cancer. After a long but gracious battle with cancer, the beloved Father Antony reposed in June of 2006. His wife Kh. Melanie moved on to Pennsylvania and settled there with family. Soon after, Father George Smith and his wife Kh. Anna (Charlotte) faithfully pastored the church until His Grace Bishop MARK would appoint another priest.

Featured Parish: Church of the Virgin Mary + Alsip, IL

In the summer of 2003, due to the large number of faithful living in the Southwest suburbs of Chicago, Metropolitan PHILIP blessed the faithful in this area to move forward and establish the mission of the Church of the Virgin Mary. In December 2004, we purchased the property where we currently worship, in Alsip, Ilinois. In the spring of 2007, His Grace Bishop MARK assigned Fr. Mousa Haddad as the first full-time pastor of the Church of the Virgin Mary in May.

At the Church of the Virgin Mary, our mission is to serve God in all that we do, and to make Jesus Christ a real presence in the hearts of the faithful in Chicago’s Southwest Suburbs. The Virgin Mary is our protector, and she intercedes on our behalf to her Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. She stands as our example of faith and commitment to serve the Lord. As she received the calling of the angel Gabriel to bear the Son of God, and to commit her life to the Lord, so we too must receive the word of God, accept His Will, and serve Him to the best of our ability. As we pray in the Divine Liturgy, “Through the intercessions of the Theotokos, Savior, save us!”

Featured Parish: Holy Transfiguration + Warrenville, IL

Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church in Warrenville, Illinois began in 1988 through the mission work of Fr. William Caldaroni, who during his seminary years became committed to the fullness of the Faith in the Orthodox Church. Under the guidance of Fr. Peter Gillquist, Mission Director of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, and Fr. Nicholas Dahdal, pastor of St. George Orthodox Church in Cicero, Illinois, the work of establishing a parish in the Wheaton, Illinois area began. From the first location rented on the campus of Wheaton College to our present location in Warrenville, Holy Transfiguration has offered the vision of the salvation through Jesus Christ to hundreds of people: some who came without faith, some who were Orthodox from infancy and some who came to Orthodoxy from Evangelical, Protestant and Roman Catholic traditions.

Featured Parish: All Saints + Bloomington, IN

All Saints Orthodox Christian Church traces its roots to the early 1970s and the pioneering effort of a small group of Orthodox Christians to bring a place of worship to their home in Bloomington. Greeks, Arabs, Russians, Romanians, Serbians and Americans met together in rented rooms on Saturdays to continue in the tradition of the Faith. The Antiochian Archdiocese welcomed the worshipers as a mission in 1989 and as a church in 1997. That original handful of families has now grown to over 187 members.

While various priests and deacons have served the community on a part time basis since its inception, in 1994 V. Rev. Fr. Athanasius Wilson became the first full-time priest. Fr. Athanasius served faithfully until his retirement in the summer of 2006, when Fr. Peter Jon Gillquist was assigned to pastor All Saints. The community has continued to grow and develop under Fr. Peter Jon’s leadership.

Featured Parish: St. Nicholas + Urbana, Illinois

Pascha 2007 at St. Nicholasby Fr. James Ellison

St. Nicholas Church in Urbana, Illinois began in 1995 with the chrismation of two families who wanted to be Orthodox Christians, share the faith with others, worship in English, and not have to uproot their families to do it. We began meeting in a living room with priests visiting us, initially for catechism and later for Sunday evening liturgies. We moved first to a rented chapel on the University of Illinois campus, and three years later to our present location, a remodeled existing church building.

An astute observer of church growth once noted that planting a church is a lot like life as a pioneer in the American West. First the explorers come, the individuals who are venturing out into areas where no one has been before. Then the pioneers who move into unsettled territory and have to establish the initial structures that support those who will hopefully follow. And then the settlers come, the ones who turn a wide place in the road into a place to live and work for generations to come. Our experience was not unlike this. Two families who wanted to be Orthodox because they believed it to be the fullness of the faith but really didn’t know what they were getting into came first. Then a few others joined them who could see the outline of liturgical life because of the priests that traveled through and who could tolerate the conditions of inconsistent pastoral care, no choir music, no one to teach church school, or bake the bread except them. They did the work of setting up and tearing down while we met in temporary space. They dealt with dance music blaring in the next room while we sat in the dark, hoping the secular party would end, so we could start the Paschal Nocturnes. And now those who are more like settlers, with the gift of a place to meet, teach, and worship are being added to our number. There are those who are drawn by the ancient worship and centuries-old doctrine, who are working to establish a more complete witness to the kingdom of God. There are those who come from traditionally Orthodox lands, yet because of conditions there have had little opportunity to know why they believe and worship the way they do. God-willing these will become our teachers and singers and servants as God entrusts with even more good work which He has prepared for us.

Featured Parish: Holy Resurrection + Hobart, Indiana

Holy Resurrection + Hobart, INFrom the Holy Resurrection web site:

The faithful of Holy Resurrection Antiochian Orthodox Church now worship at the corner of 6th and Water in Hobart, Indiana, under the loving care of Fr. Gregory Owen.  In this story, our former pastor, Fr. Gregory Rogers (St. Catherine Mission) recounts a time when we worshipped at 45th and Harrison in Gary, Indiana. We thank God for those early years and the love and dedication that Fr. Gregory displayed for his parish.

On the outside the building wasn't beautiful. It looked like an old brick warehouse, having gone through numerous incarnations and transformations. Originally built as an auto repair garage, it became a printing business, a hot dog stand and video arcade, a warehouse for storage, and finally, an empty and vacant monument to a more prosperous era. The brick didn't match, old with new, white with red, in spite of the tuck pointing and repair that had been done. The neighborhood itself was dreary, across the street to the north, a cemetery, to the east, a convenience store with its transient clientele, to the south, an eighty year old house long past its prime. Like most early spring days in Gary, IN, this one, March 21, 1987, was chilly and overcast, and a trifle gloomy.

Inside, though, was a different story. The building had been stripped to the walls and redone...new studs, new wiring, new drywall, painted, carpet on the floor, new furnishings, redone windows. The accoutrements of worship had been added - a wooden altar, a cross suspended on the wall behind it, huge icons of the Lord Jesus Christ and of the Mother of God. In the rear of the church an old Russian icon of the Resurrection of Christ hung, candles burning before it, calling down the grace of God upon the people gathered there.

Featured Parish: St. George Church + Cicero, Illinois

The Miraculous Lady of Cicero, IllinoisFrom the St. George Church web site:

Orthodox Christians from the Middle East began to arrive in Illinois in the early part of the 20th century. At first, they were served by itinerant priests from Michigan City, Indiana, and later from Spring Valley, Illinois. However, for decades, there were never enough families in Chicago to constitute their own parish. Many in the Chicago area worshipped in the local Greek Churches or belonged to the common Melkite/Maronite parish of St. John the Baptist.

In 1960, several families petitioned the late Metropolitan ANTONY (Bashir) to send them a priest to serve the Divine Liturgy. Services were held at the Syrian-Lebanese Club House on Washington Boulevard and Laramie Avenue on Chicago's West Side or in rented quarters. Among the first priests to serve on a weekend basis was the Rev. Fr. Philip Giffin, who commuted from Buffalo, New York. Later, priests from the Greek Diocese of Chicago served periodically at St. George. The Rev. Fr. John Newcombe served as the first resident priest for the parish from 1965 to 1966.

Featured Parish: St. Elias Orthodox Church, LaCrosse, Wisconsin

St. Elias, LaCrosse, Wisconsin 

St. Elias Orthodox Church

LaCrosse, Wisconsin

***

Founded by St. Raphael of Brooklyn in the early 1900’s, St. Elias Orthodox Church in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, is a parish renewing, rebuilding, and seeking to grow as vital Orthodox community in the scenic “God’s country” of southwestern Wisconsin.

Originally a parish comprised of immigrants from the Middle East and Greece the community, which went without a resident Priest for decades, was reborn in the 1970’s through the care and devotion of Orthodox Christians who desired to see the Faith reestablished where three rivers meet and over 100,000 people work and live.

While we cherish our heritage and the distinct honor of being founded by a Saint of the Church we believe the best expression of that heritage is to be a living, thriving, and life giving Orthodox Church. To that end we are currently repairing and expanding our facilities and seeking, as well, to grow in our Faith in preparation for inviting our friends and neighbors to experience the joy and life of Orthodoxy.

Featured Mission: All Saints of North America, St. Louis, MO

image All Saints of North America

Maryland Heights, MO

In early 2003, Fr. Peter Gillquist and the Department of Missions and Evangelism were contacted by some of the faithful in St. Louis about the possibility of beginning an all-English Orthodox mission the greater St. Louis area. The project was soon underway and in October of 2003, a core group of people met with Fr. Michael Keiser (mission priest) who then recommended to the Archdiocese that a mission be planted. On November 22 and 23, after several weeks of Readers services, the mission’s first Great Vespers and Divine Liturgy with a priest (Fr. George Geevarghese from Louisville, KY) were celebrated in the basement-turned-chapel at the home of one of the mission’s core members. The mission had been launched!

Diocese of Toledo Featured Missions

Featured Mission: St. Luke the Evangelist + Solon, OH

St. Luke the Evangelist Mission began in 2002 under the guidance of Archpriest Elias Meena to provide an Orthodox Christian witness to the East side of the greater Cleveland metropolitan area. There are over two dozen Orthodox parishes in the region, but most of them are located either in central Cleveland or on the West side. The mission’s initial efforts under Fr. Meena included founding a community in the greater Solon area, the purchase of property for a permanent location, and the preparation of architectural plans for a church temple and hall.

Sadly, Fr. Meena’s untimely death in the summer of 2005 significantly curtailed the momentum of St. Luke’s. After Fr. Meena’s repose, the mission was served by two more priests on a part-time basis.

Featured Mission: St. Elias Mission + Peoria, IL

St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Mission in Peoria, Illinois began in 2005 under the guidance of Fr. Peter Gillquist, Mission Director of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, and Fr. Nicholas Dahdal, pastor of St. George Orthodox Church in Cicero, Illinois to spread the word of God’s truth through the teachings of the Antiochian Orthodox Church, with an invitation for all to become followers of the Orthodox Christian faith and members of St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Mission.

In June 2005, His Grace Bishop Mark ordained Fr. Habib Ghantous into the priesthood during the Parish Life Conference hosted by St. George Orthodox Church, Cicero, Illinois where he was serving as a Deacon.

On July 16, 2005, His Grace, Bishop Mark came to Peoria, IL to bless the newly renovated building where we currently hold our worship services.

Featured Mission: St. Catherine of Alexandria + Ann Arbor, MI

When a group of Orthodox Christians began meeting once a month in 1999 to celebrate the Divine Liturgy mostly in Arabic, little did they imagine they would grow into a dynamic, all-English-speaking mission comprised of people from all ethnic backgrounds. Located between two large universities, St. Catherine of Alexandria Mission in Ann Arbor, Michigan has become a spiritual home for students and faculty, young and old, “cradle” and “convert.” St. Catherine’s is dedicated to participatory worship, spiritual growth, education, evangelism, and service – but it is best defined by its members’ warmth and hospitality.

From humble beginnings in 1999, this mission grew with fits and starts. For much of its history, it did not have a resident priest and the times and places of worship varied from month-to-month, or even week-to-week. But a core group of dedicated Orthodox faithfully tended to the seedling of the Church that God had planted. Bp. MARK appointed Fr. Benjamin Johnson as its resident priest in 2008.

Featured Mission: Holy Cross + Dorr, Michigan

“Oh Lord, save thy people ….”

In July 2005, thirty three people made a life-changing pilgrimage from Wittenberg (birthplace of Lutheranism) to Antioch. We spent our first year at St. Nicholas in Grand Rapids, Michigan under the tutelage of Fr. Daniel Daly, aided by Fr. John Winfrey from St. George. Our priest, Fr. Gregory Hogg, was ordained to the holy priesthood in March, 2006 at St. James/Williamston (see picture at left) and a few months later we began services as Holy Cross Mission in Dorr, Michigan.

By the blessing of God and the prayers of his people, we purchased our first building in the summer of 2007. Several months’ hard work, guided by the wise counsel of Bishop MARK, has given us a home of our own in which to worship God, love each other, and serve our community. We want to be an active and living witness for Orthodoxy in a region of West Michigan that is presently not served by an Orthodox church: to bring the fullness of the faith to people who need to know the life-changing power of the cross of Christ.

Holy Cross is served by Fr. Gregory Hogg, who works as an Affiliate Professor in the Philosophy department of Grand Valley State University. In addition, Fr. Steven Van Bronkhorst is attached to our mission as a priest. Fr. Steven works with the Grand Rapids Area Transit Authority. Both Frs. Gregory and Steven are active in campus ministry, having founded chapters of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship on the campuses of Grand Valley State, Hope College in Holland, and Calvin College in Grand Rapids.

Featured Mission: Saint Barnabas + Columbus, Ohio

What do you get when you mix together one hundred people who live in a forty mile radius around the capitol city of Ohio, with a range of ages from newborns to those long retired, from almost every populated continent on the earth? You get St. Barnabas Mission in Columbus, Ohio. Many more people have come and gone with moves and job transfers in and out of a city that contains one of the largest universities in the country, major facilities of large financial institutions, major retail businesses, and large manufacturing enterprises.

It was because of the potential for growth of a new mission that five families began meeting in 1999 to begin the mission. Meeting in homes for a short while, the new group began renting the church of St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church and meeting on Sunday evenings. Fr. Gordon Walker, with a special love for Columbus, was appointed to shepherd the new mission. Divine Liturgies were held on Sunday evenings with visiting clergy and Fr. Gordon when he was able to get to Columbus from Tennessee. New families began to come and slow growth began to occur.

Featured Mission: St. Mary of Egypt + Greenwood, Indiana

St. Mary of Egypt MissionSaint Mary of Egypt Mission is located in Greenwood, Indiana, a city south of Indianapolis. The mission is supported by our offerings and the prayers and assistance of our sister church, St. George of Indianapolis and the guidance of their pastor, the V. Rev. Fr. Nabil Hanna. Our pastor is the V. Rev. Fr. Athanasius Wilson, formerly of All Saints Orthodox Church in Bloomington, Indiana. We are presently worshiping in a rented facility at the Knights of Columbus in Greenwood.

The Saint Mary of Egypt mission began on April 22nd, 2007 with seven souls. Since the early nineteen-seventies, when Fr. Athanasius was a member of St. George, he had always dreamed of an Orthodox parish on the south side of Indianapolis. All of the area's five other parishes were on the north side of Indianapolis. After his retirement the Lord afforded Fr. Athanasius the opportunity, with the blessing of His Grace Bishop Mark, to begin a mission there. There has never been an Orthodox parish in this area, and the opportunities for witness to the Holy Faith are unlimited.

Featured Mission: Cape Girardeau Mission + Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Some of the group The Cape Girardeau Orthodox Mission is a new eastern-rite mission of the North American Antiochian Archdiocese, under the direction of Bishop MARK in the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest. The endeavor to establish a mission in southern Missouri began in the spring of 2008 when Father Steven Salaris of All Saint of North America began developing contacts.

The effort took a big step forward in June 2008 when Jim Mackoul (now Deacon) began traveling to Cape Girardeau to investigate the possibility. Contacts were made with several Orthodox Christians living in the surrounding area. It was easy to see that there was high level of interest among the faithful. We hit the ground running. By early July 2008 we offered daily Vespers on Wednesday evenings. By late July, we had found a location in which we could hold services and began scheduling Great Vespers, Orthros, and Divine Liturgy. The mission consists of American, Syrian, Greek, and Bulgarian Orthodox. Everyone is welcome, inquirers and non-Orthodox alike. We’re here to serve. With God’s help we’ve planted our little mission. By the grace of God, we’ll nurture it and make it grow. By spring of 2009, we hope to make the next step and move into a semi-permanent location near the downtown in Cape Girardeau, somewhere close to the university.

Featured Mission: Holy Incarnation + Lincoln Park, Michigan

Holy Incarnation is a Western Rite mission serving metropolitan Detroit, Michigan under the leadership of Fr. John Fenton. Prior to the spring of 2008, Holy Incarnation had been leasing space from a local Episcopal church, but in February the mission concluded the purchase of a building to serve as its permanent home.

The new church building is an important step in the re-establishment of a Western Rite Orthodox parish in metropolitan Detroit. From 1975-2001, Incarnation Orthodox Church in Detroit served the liturgical needs of Western Rite Orthodox Christians in and around Detroit, and was the cornerstone of the Western Orthodoxy in the Midwest. Fr Fenton explained that Holy Incarnation Orthodox Church builds on the legacy of the former Incarnation parish. “We are the beneficiaries of years of sacrificial giving,” said Fr. Fenton, “because the funds held in trust after the closing of Incarnation have helped finance the new facility for Holy Incarnation.” Fr. Fenton stated the new building will further the permanent re-establishment of a Western Rite presence in Detroit.

Featured Mission: Holy Apostles Orthodox Mission, Bowling Green, KY

Holy Apostles Orthodox Mission

Bowling Green, KY

Holy Apostles Mission is a mission of the Midwest Diocese of the North American Antiochian Archdiocese.  The mission's congregation, which currently consists of Americans, Greeks, Serbians, Egyptians, and a growing compilation of other ethnicities, first began working toward a mission in the spring of 2008, with a small group of diverse and dedicated Orthodox Christians who long to see Holy Orthodoxy brought to southern Kentucky. Holy Apostles held its first Vespers service in April 2008, and celebrated its first Liturgy in June, the first Divine Liturgy ever to be held in Bowling Green, Kentucky. It received the name Holy Apostles in July 2008.

Featured Mission: St. Raphael Antiochian Orthodox Mission, Iowa City, IA

image St. Raphael Antiochian Orthodox Mission

Iowa City, IA

Since our beginning in 2002, God has blessed our mission with “growth” in multiple senses of the word.  From an initial handful, our group has grown to include a roster of about 100, with Sunday liturgy attendance averaging 50-60. A large percentage of us are children.  Our members include “cradle” Orthodox and converts, representing many nationalities including Syrians, Russians, Ukrainians, Romanians, Greeks, Lebanese, Georgians and Americans, all worshipping together in English. We usually have a group of catechumens and several inquirers.  We are blessed to be truly pan-Orthodox!

Whether you live in Iowa City or elsewhere, we invite you to share in our life of prayer and worship and the building of this church.  If you live far away, you can participate through your prayers and donations, both to our mission and to missions across the archdiocese. We benefit every time you pray for us and commemorate us in the liturgy. And of course, we would welcome you with open arms if you ever happen to pass through our community!

Featured Mission: All Saints of North America, St. Louis, MO

image All Saints of North America

Maryland Heights, MO

In early 2003, Fr. Peter Gillquist and the Department of Missions and Evangelism were contacted by some of the faithful in St. Louis about the possibility of beginning an all-English Orthodox mission the greater St. Louis area. The project was soon underway and in October of 2003, a core group of people met with Fr. Michael Keiser (mission priest) who then recommended to the Archdiocese that a mission be planted. On November 22 and 23, after several weeks of Readers services, the mission’s first Great Vespers and Divine Liturgy with a priest (Fr. George Geevarghese from Louisville, KY) were celebrated in the basement-turned-chapel at the home of one of the mission’s core members. The mission had been launched!

The Falling Asleep of Our Lady

image"Let us crown the Church with songs on the falling asleep of the ark of God; for today doth heaven open its bosom to receive her who gave birth to the One whom all cannot contain. And earth doth adorn itself in blessing and splendour, restoring the fount of life." + Vesperal Litiya of the Feast, Fifth Tone

The Great Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos is August 15. In honor of the Holy Virgin Mary, we are making available online this powerful meditation by Bishop BASIL originally published in The Handmaiden, the magazine for Orthodox Christian women from Conciliar Press: Mary, Our Cause for Rejoicing.

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