Lights Camera Action. Orthodoxy Now
by Dn. Andrew Cross
Something new and exciting is happening in Pittsburgh … and beyond! In September 2006, Orthodoxy Now was launched as a local access cable television and internetbased program available at www.Orthodoxy- NowTV.com. This article will provide an overview of Orthodoxy Now and explore the blessings and potential of this program, in particular, and multi-media, Orthodox Christian ministry in America, in general.
Orthodoxy Now is a weekly 30-minute television and internet-based program designed to educate and inform audiences about Orthodox Christianity. Orthodoxy Now endeavors to reach a variety of audiences, including: 1) people who are Orthodox Christians through Baptism or Chrismation, 2) elderly or infirm Orthodox Christians who are unable to attend Church services and events, and 3) Orthodox Christians who are not members of a particular parish or community. The program also seeks to address the needs of non-Orthodox and/or non-Christians who may be on a faith journey or otherwise interested in the teachings of the Orthodox Church.
Each episode of Orthodoxy Now is presented in three major segments — two that feature conversations with noted Orthodox experts or local clergy and one that provides a testimony of experience by an Orthodox Christian. The goal of this approach is to provide viewers with practical applications of Orthodox theological teachings, so that the viewers, in turn, can attempt to incorporate those teachings into their daily lives.
Orthodoxy Now premiered in September 2006 as a television program which airs twice a day on a local access cable television channel that is sponsored by Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania. On Monday of each week, a different episode of Orthodoxy Now is aired. For the next seven days, this same episode is made available “24-hours a day” throughout much of Western Pennsylvania via Comcast On-Demand, a service that enables Comcast cable customers to select from a menu of movies and television shows. In addition, episodes of Orthodoxy Now will be made available (in DVD format) to any individuals, organizations, or parishes that wish to purchase them.
Archived episodes of Orthodoxy Now are also available (in QuickTime format) on the internet at www.OrthodoxyNowTV.com. At the time of this article’s publication, the following episodes were available on-line: “Christmas” (2006), “End of Life,” “The Incarnation,” “Preaching,” “Sexuality,” “Spiritual Direction,” “Theophany,” “The Theotokos,” and “Vocations.” Other episodes that have been filmed, but are not yet available on the internet, include “Becoming a god” (Theosis), “Christian Stewardship and the Environment,” “The Crucifixion,” “Pascha,” “Second Chances” (St. Mary of Egypt), and “The Symbol of the Cross.”
Orthodoxy Now is in production through the efforts of the Orthodox Christian Communications Committee (“OCCC”), a ministry of the Orthodox Clergy Brotherhood of Greater Pittsburgh. The OCCC includes lay people and clergy with special interest, education, and training in media. All of the program’s hosts, production staff members and guests are volunteers. Guests who have taped segments to date include Father Thomas Hopko, Father Joseph Allen, and Mother Magdalena of Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Ellwood City. The program’s hosts are Kweilin Nassar, a familiar television personality in the Pittsburgh viewing area, John Righetti, a veteran Pittsburgh marketing and public relations professional, and Father John Abdalah, the Dean of St. George Cathedral in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
Orthodoxy Now: One Program, Many Blessings, Many Possibilities
It is the desire of everybody involved in the production of Orthodoxy Now that this program benefit the Orthodox Church in as many ways as possible. While success is ultimately in the loving hands of God, we are grateful for the many blessings that we have witnessed to date, as well as the hopeful possibilities that we see on the horizon. The following are observations about a few of these blessings and possibilities.
The Blessing of Cooperation
Orthodoxy Now resulted from the cooperation of many different persons and organizations involved in its production, as demonstrated in the following two ways.
First, without the support of non- Orthodox Christians in Pittsburgh, Orthodoxy Now would not have become what it is today. In 2005, Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania — an organization that serves many needs of a variety of Christian communities in the greater Pittsburgh metropolitan area — offered the Orthodox Christian community in Greater Pittsburgh the opportunity to produce and air a television program utilizing the Christian Associates cable channel and television studio (complete with equipment). Christian Associates made a genuine “no strings attached” offer — the Orthodox community could exercise full editorial control and would maintain full ownership of and responsibility for each broadcast. As a result, Orthodoxy Now was positioned from the beginning to be a multi-media program distributed through television, internet, and DVD formats.
Second, the start-up and continuing production of Orthodoxy Now is the product of inter-jurisdictional co-operation among the Orthodox Clergy Brotherhood of Greater Pittsburgh. Indicative of this is the composition of Orthodoxy Now’s volunteer staff, which includes representatives from several of the Orthodox jurisdictions within the Greater Pittsburgh area — Carpatho-Russian, Greek, Antiochian, Ukrainian and the Orthodox Church in America. Coincidentally, these Orthodox jurisdictions also participate in the Christian Associates organization.
A World of Opportunity
Due to the potential reach of television and internet ministries, programs such as Orthodoxy Now present significant opportunities to provide the world with the witness and hope of Orthodox Christianity. It is important to note that Orthodoxy Now is only one of several multi-media initiatives that are available to satisfy the spiritual needs of those who are within or are searching for the Orthodox Christian Faith. Other examples are the Orthodox Christian Network, which produces three different internet-based ministries — The Ark, The Rudder, Come Receive the Light — available at www.receive.org, and the Ancient Faith Radio, an internet-based radio station at www.ancientfaithradio.com, which describes itself as offering “Timeless Christianity 24 Hours A Day.” Each of these ministries is the product of different people using the unique gifts that God has given to them to share the Lord’s Gospel and, by God’s grace, show the world “a more excellent way.”
A Continuation of the Orthodox Evangelical Tradition
Orthodoxy Now and similar multi-media ministries are a continuation of the Orthodox evangelical and missionary tradition to communicate the Gospel (i.e., evangelize) through a medium that people living in a particular place and age are able to understand. In other words, the Church has approached missionary and evangelical activity with the precise intention of spreading the universal and timeless Truth through local and temporal means. The following are four examples of this approach.
First, this approach was at the heart of St. Paul’s message. Consider, for example, I Corinthians 9:20-23, in which St. Paul writes, in pertinent part, “To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews … To those outside the law I became as one outside the law … that I might win those outside the law. To the weak, I became weak, that I might win the weak. I become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” Second, this was the approach of the Church Fathers. For example, Saints Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, and Gregory the Theologian mastered the language and medium of the 4th century AD — classical Greek Philosophy — to express the Eternal through the temporal.
Third, Saints Cyril and Methodius employed this approach in the 9th century AD. Specifically, these two Greek missionary brothers moved from Thessalonica to the lands of the Slavs, where they transmitted that which they had received — namely the Orthodox theological teachings of St. Paul and the Church Fathers — through a totally new medium that the saintly brothers had created — the Cyrillic alphabet.
Finally, this was the approach of Our Father Among the Saints Raphael, Bishop of Brooklyn, with respect to this very publica- Kweilin Nassar, John Righetti and Fr. Thomas Hopko tape an episode. Orthodoxy Now WORD MAGAZINE The Word 13 tion! In the inaugural issue of The WORD, Saint Raphael explains: “We called our magazine ‘The Word’ — first in the name of our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ, the Word of God, and second in order to indicate one of our three priestly duties, the duty of teaching and preaching the word of salvation everywhere, and especially within our God-saved diocese in accordance with the commandment of the Apostle Paul (II Timothy 4:1-5).”
In summary, throughout Church history the media has varied — for St. Paul, he (and, by extension, his word) was the medium; for the Church Fathers, the medium was classical philosophy; for Sts. Cyril and Methodius, the medium was a language; and for St. Raphael, the medium was a written publication. However, in each case, the message and approach did not vary; each of these Shining Stars utilized the temporal to convey the Eternal to both Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike.
The “Next Generation” of Orthodox Educational Curricula
Finally, Orthodoxy Now and similar multimedia ministries could serve as an aid in the continuing evolution of Orthodox educational curricula in America. Specifically, each episode or program of a multi-media ministry, such as Orthodoxy Now, could be combined with traditional reading assignments and group discussions to produce a fully-integrated educational experience. The exact nature of the readings and discussion groups could be tailored to the needs and experiences of different demographic groups. So, for example, different reading and discussion formats could be used for teens, adults, persons recently received into the Faith, clergy, seminarians, St. Stephen’s candidates, etc.
Orthodoxy Now: Conclusion
The production of Orthodoxy Now can be viewed as a microcosm of both the development of Orthodoxy in America and our participation — as American Orthodox — in the Priesthood of Jesus Christ into which we have each been baptized. As previously noted, the “volunteer staff” that is responsible for producing Orthodoxy Now consists of clergy and lay people, men and women, Pittsburghers and Bostonians — many of whom come from multiple Orthodox jurisdictions and one of whom is not even Orthodox! Each of these people brings his or her unique talents “to the set” and offers them to God in order to build up the Body of Christ. By doing this, each person participates fully in the Priesthood of Jesus Christ by using his or her energy to share His Life-Giving Word with Pittsburgh … and beyond!
Courtesy of the
June 2007 issue of The Word magazine.