FOCUS North America announces pilot FOCUS Kansas City Center in partnership with Reconciliation Services - extending hands-on ministry nationally
December 4, 2009 – Kansas City, MO
Through a unique alliance with Reconciliation Services, FOCUS North America has launched FOCUS Kansas City - the first such center of a national initiative to provide more local opportunities for volunteers and Orthodox Christian faithful to participate in hands-on ministry in the spirit of Matthew 25.
Reconciliation Services has not just chosen to be renamed Reconciliation Services – FOCUS Kansas City but has partnered with FOCUS North America for mutual support and encouragement, standing side-by-side in service of the hurting and hungry in Kansas City.
Unlike some umbrella organizations, FOCUS North America is an active, operational ministry. Reconciliation Services-FOCUS Kansas City is a pilot program – a model that FOCUS North America is actively working to replicate in 10 communities in the next five years.
Since 1987 over 1,000 people have offered a living witness to the Orthodox Christian faith through their participation in an Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) Mission Team. These Team members have taught catechism, built churches, schools, and hospitals, offered healthcare, worked with youth, and provided outreach in 27 countries around the world.
There have been exceptions, but for reasons that include liability, the risks and rigor inherent in serving abroad, and the specialized nature of mission work, Team members have traditionally been at least 18 years old. Over the years, OCMC has heard from many sources including past Team members, missionaries, board members, staff, and supporters about the importance of enabling youth participation on OCMC Mission Teams.
With board approval, OCMC has opened up four of its 2010 Mission Teams to youth participation with the condition that Team members would not be under 13 years of age and that they would be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
“The motivation behind this decision was to expose youth to the work of making disciples while giving eligible families the ability to experience service for the Church in a cross cultural setting,” offers OCMC Mission Teams Director Andrew Lekos.
The Teams in 2010 that are open to youth and families have been carefully chosen to allow youth to develop relationships with their Orthodox peers and learn about new cultures. “It is hoped that language barriers melt and horizons are broadened as families put their faith into action and share their Orthodox faith,” adds Mr. Lekos.
Over Thanksgiving weekend in 2004, John and Tonya Maddex quietly began a revolution on the back porch of their Chicago-area home. Ancient Faith Radio, an internet-based streaming radio station, began broadcasting Eastern Orthodox Christian liturgical music and readings 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It soon became an outreach of their Antiochian Chicago parish, All Saints Orthodox Church, and later a department of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese.
Today, five years later, the station provides two streaming radio stations, about 50 podcasts, and audio recordings from conferences all across the country. Ancient Faith Radio has become an important resource for Orthodox Christians and many people interested in Christianity worldwide. What began as a few hundred listeners has grown substantially, with visitors to the website from 127 countries and an average of 250,000 downloads of podcasts each month.
John Maddex now serves full-time as the President and CEO of the parent company, Conciliar Media Ministries, overseeing operations of both Ancient Faith Radio and Conciliar Press, an Orthodox Christian publishing house. Currently, AFR is in the midst of their annual appeal. Supportive listeners have offered matching funds, so that end of the year gifts will be doubled, in order to increase the internet radio ministry's reach. Donate funds at: www.ancientfaith.com.
When asked what the future holds for Conciliar Media, Maddex said, “As technology develops and more and more people consume digital media in the form of internet radio and e-books, Conciliar Media and Ancient Faith Radio are positioned to provide high-quality audio and reading materials for Orthodox as well as other liturgically minded Christians worldwide.”
God bless us all with health and happiness this season and always. This month throughout our Archdiocese parishes will be adorned in red as members of The Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch don their membership crosses suspended by a red ribbon, a symbol of the blood which the Martyr Ignatius shed for Christ. The Cross and ribbon remind us that sacrificial giving is our obligation as an Antiochian Orthodox Christian.
In celebration of St. Ignatius Sunday, which falls this year on December 20, members of The Order in each parish will wear their crosses and pins, act as greeters, read the Epistle, take up the collection, help with the Communion line, give a homily, host the coffee hour for their parish that day. It is hoped that members will speak with those in their parish unfamiliar with The Order and explain the good works that are accomplished through membership.
Music is a divine act and science concerned with tones, which aids us in expressing the sentiments of the heart by means of voice and instruments. —S.J. Savas
So he who sings well puts his soul in tune, correcting by degrees its faulty rhythm, so that at last, being truly natural and integrated, it has fear of nothing, but in peaceful freedom from all vain imaginings may apply itself with greater longing to the good things to come. For a soul rightly ordered by chanting the sacred word forgets its own afflictions and contemplates with joy the things of Christ alone. —St. Athanasius, The Letter of St. Athanasius to Marcellinus on the Interpretation of Psalms.
A Message From Christopher Holwey
Chairman, Department of Sacred Music
Greetings to you in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray all is well.
This is simply a quick reminder to you that this coming Sunday, December 6th, is the Sunday that we honor our chanters and choir members throughout our Archdiocese. It is known as Choir & Chanter Appreciation Sunday.
So therefore, I would like to ask that you do something in recognition of the choir members and chanters in your parish. It might be a special acknowledgement of thanks after Liturgy, or a coffee hour planned in their honor, or whatever else you might creatively think to do for them. As you know, we not only need our priests for each and every service that is done in the Church, but we also need someone, or a group of people--our dedicated chanters and choir members--there to chant and sing the responses and special hymns for whichever service is being offered. They are a vital part of every service that is prayed. As Metropolitan ANTONY, of thrice-blessed memory, once said, “A church without a choir is like a body without a soul.”
November 24, 2009
Beloved in Christ,
God bless you.
As I promised you a couple of days ago, we are forwarding you information on the Orthodox approach to issues that have been recently addressed in the Manhattan Declaration. Below I offer a few comments on subjects relevant to that document:
MANY YEARS! This past Sunday, November 22nd, 2009, the Archdiocese's Silver Antonian Medal of Merit was presented to Chris Farha of St. George Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas in recognition of her twenty-five years of service as director of the Cathedral choir and her work as a member of the Archdiocesan Department of Sacred Music and coordinator of the DOWAMA Sacred Music Committee.
The Classical Learning Resource Center is offering 4 new classes for Spring Semester (January 11th – May 14th 2010). In addition to new Latin 1 and Greek 1 classes the CLRC will offer two new high school level courses for the Spring Semester: “Critical Thinking”, and “God and the Philosophers”. Noted Christian author Matthew Gallatin (Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells) will be the instructor for both classes. These will complement current CLRC courses for Middle School and High School students in Latin and Greek, as well as Greek Mythology and Homer. Students with some previous background in Latin or Greek may be eligible to join ongoing CLRC classes in these subjects. New sections of Homer and Greek Mythology are also being offered. Registration for the Spring Semester (January 11- May 14) opened on November 5. Class sizes are limited for the purpose of quality instruction so early enrollment is encouraged.
The Classical Learning Resource Center, founded by Subdeacon John and Anne Van Fossen and Reader Matthew Gallatin is an online Resource Center for teachers and homeschoolers, dedicated to Christian education through Classical Learning. A classical education not only prepares students for the practical responsibilities of life, but also opens the door to a deeper understanding of humanity and faith.
To learn more about the school and/or to register for classes, visit the CLRC online at http://www.facebook.com/l/53825;www.clrchomeschool.com.
His Grace Bishop BASIL, a signatory to the Declaration, highlights this news release:
Washington, D.C., Press Conference Unveils 4,700-Word Statement Signed by More Than 125 Orthodox, Catholic & Evangelical Leaders
WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2009—Today a group of prominent Christian clergy, ministry leaders and scholars released the Manhattan Declaration, which addresses the sanctity of life, traditional marriage and religious liberty. The 4,700-word declaration issues a clarion call to Christians to adhere to their convictions and informs civil authorities that the signers will not - under any circumstance - abandon their Christian consciences. Drafted by Dr. Robert George, Dr. Timothy George and Chuck Colson and signed by more than 125 Orthodox, Catholic and evangelical Christian leaders, the Manhattan Declaration is available at DeMossNews.com/ManhattanDeclaration.
The feature article in the December 2009 issue of National Geographic Magazine is entitled "Called to the Holy Mountain" and is about Athonite monasticism. The entire article, with text by Robert Draper and photography by Travis Dove, may be accessed on-line. Be sure to check out all three links on the page: Feature Article, Photo Gallery, and Map of Mount Athos.
The holy peninsula of Mount Athos reaches 31 miles out into the Aegean Sea like an appendage struggling to dislocate itself from the secular corpus of northeastern Greece. For the past thousand years or so, a community of Eastern Orthodox monks has dwelled here, purposefully removed from everything except God. They live only to become one with Jesus Christ. Their enclave—crashing waves, dense chestnut forests, the specter of snowy-veined Mount Athos, 6,670 feet high—is the very essence of isolation.
November 16, 2009
The Most Reverend Metropolitan CHRISTOPHER
Serbian Orthodox Church in North & South America
The Venerable Hierarchs and the Clergy and Laity
of the Holy Serbian Orthodox Church
We are deeply saddened by the news of the falling asleep in Christ of His Beatitude, +PAVLE, Patriarch of the Holy Orthodox Church of Serbia. We were blessed to receive his blessings during one of his visits to the United States of America. His Beatitude, PAVLE has lived a holy, long and fruitful life. His contribution to education and the monastic life will never be forgotten.
We will never forget his courageous voice against the unfortunate wars between Orthodox Serbs, the Catholic Croats, and Bosnian Muslims. He was a catalyst for peace and understanding amongst all these groups. “Blessed are the peacemakers.” His departure from this temporal life is a great loss, not only to the God-loving people of Serbia, but to Orthodox Christians all over the world.
On behalf of myself, our venerable hierarchs, the clergy and laity of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, we convey to you, your venerable hierarchs, clergy and laity and the Holy Synod of our sister Patriarchate of Serbia, our deepest sympathy. May our gracious Lord receive His Beatitude, PAVLE in His holy mansions where the faces of the saints shine like the stars of heaven. May his soul rest in peace. Surely his memory will be eternal.
+ Metropolitan PHILIP, Primate
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
Each year during the Nativity season, all congregations in the Diocese of Wichita are requested to solicit contributions from all of their individual parishioners and parochial organizations for this worthy endeavor, which provides assistance to mission priests throughout the Diocese.
Every year we have the opportunity to celebrate the feast of St. Basil the Great and honor our own Bishop BASIL by donating to the Bishop BASIL Missions Endowment Fund.
It began in 1975 when the Southwest Region (name at that time) wanted to increase awareness of the need for mission work in the Region. At that time, the Southwest Region consisted of only 8 communities (our Diocese now numbers 51 congregations). Pledges were made to the "Missions Fund", and in 1977 Father Michael Wellborn was partially funded by the Region and assigned to the Region's first mission, Three Hierarchs in New Orleans, Louisiana (renamed St. Basil and relocated to Metairie, Louisiana). In 1978 a "Region Missions Blitz Weekend" was held in Dallas, Texas, resulting in the founding that very weekend of the Region's second mission, Ss. Constantine and Helen in Dallas. The Region also helped fund their first priest, Father Anthony Nelson. Over the years, the Region has funded many missions and helped fund their priests.
FOCUS North America has announced the launch of a new website and video for its youth-based domestic outreach program “Youth Equipped to Serve” (YES). The website can be found at http://www.yesnorthamerica.org/ The video can be found at www.yesnorthamerica.org/yesvideo.
"We are so excited for you to get to know the YES Program through our new website and YES video! Read testimonies from students, view videos that they made and hear firsthand how God is working in the lives of the youth that become His hands and feet in service to the poor," said Katrina Bitar, FOCUS North America YES Program Director.
Feedback from student participants has been enthusiastic.
“The website is fantastic and lively. The new YES video does an excellent job showing the many encounters that happen on a YES trip.” - Peyton Powers
“The website is awesome! The bright colors are great and show how fun these trips are. The video perfectly captured our trip!” - Grace Farha
FOCUS North America believes that engaging all of the faithful, especially our youth, in the Gospel work of serving the poor in our own communities is essential in keeping the youth faithful to Christ and active in the Church for a lifetime. The YES Program has dramatically influenced the spiritual lives of its hundreds of participants. For more information on the YES program or to schedule a trip, visit: www.FOCUSNorthAmerica.org/YES.
FOCUS North America and its programs are committed to serve those in need, support Orthodox Christian social action ministries and supply parishes and others with the education, resources and training to initiate social action ministries in their own communities. In all of this, FOCUS North America continues its work in Restoring Living Icons.
His Holiness PAVLE (Paul), Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade and Karlovac, and Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Serbia, reposed on Sunday, November 15, 2009 at the age of 95.
The Patriarch was born Gojko Stojcevic on September 11, 1914 at Kucanci, a village which was then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire but is now in Croatia. After attending the Fourth Male Gymnasium in Belgrade, he studied at a seminary in Sarajevo. During the Second World War he took refuge in a monastery at Ovcar, and then returned to Belgrade, where he briefly worked in the construction industry. In 1946 he became a monk at Blagovestenje monastery in Ovcar, taking the name Pavle (Paul). For 11 years he lived as a monk at the Raca Monastery in central Serbia, and from 1950 lectured at the Prizen Seminary in Kosovo. From 1955 to 1957 Pavle studied Orthodox Theology at the University of Athens, where he discovered a particular gift for liturgics – he was later to become one of the most prolific liturgical writers in the Serbian Church.
On completion of his studies he was elected Bishop of Raska-Prizren (the diocese includes Kosovo), remaining in that post for 33 years until his election as Patriarch on December 1 1990. Pavle had by this time experienced at first hand the hatred that was to consume the former Yugoslavia: in 1989 he had been beaten up by a group of Albanian youths in Kosovo, receiving injuries that required three months' hospital treatment.
St. Vladimir's Seminary’s Board of Trustees, under the leadership His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah, primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) and Board Chairman, met on the seminary campus November 5–7, 2009 for their 61st annual meeting. A highlight of the trustees’ decisions included appointments and elections to the board in accordance with the Seminary’s vision for cooperative effort and exchange among Orthodox Christian jurisdictions and churches globally. The board concluded its meeting looking optimistically toward the future.
Metropolitan Philip re-appointed as trustee
Exemplifying the pan-Orthodox vision of its founders, the seminary Board of Trustees is comprised of episcopal appointments and elected trustees from the wide spectrum of students who historically have graced the classrooms at St. Vladimir's Seminary. His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah has re-appointed to the seminary's Board of Trustees His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, whose presence on the board since 1967 continues fifty-one years of tradition of having the metropolitan archbishop of the Antiochian Archdiocese counted among the seminary's trustees, beginning with the appointment of His Eminence Metropolitan Antony (Bashir) in 1958. The longest serving trustee of the seminary, His Eminence was re-elected by the Board of Trustees to the office of Vice Chairman of the Board, an office His Eminence has held since 1981, and an expression of his commitment to the vision of pan-Orthodox unity for North America and the role of St. Vladimir's Seminary in fostering cooperation among Orthodox Churches in North America and beyond.
Archbishop Hilarion and Thomas Zedlovich join board
The Antiochian Archdiocese Department of Stewardship has just released online two very important documents for your parish to download, review, field test and comment on prior to official publication. (Some referenced articles and appendices are still to be published online.) These pilot projects should prove vital to your local Stewardship efforts. Click here for more information.
On Saturday, October 17, 2009, St George Orthodox Church in Houston, Texas presented a Special Banquet honoring His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP and the Archdiocese Board of Trustees to benefit the Convent of St Thekla. His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP, His Grace, Bishop ANTOUN, His Grace, Bishop ALEXANDER, and members of the Board of Trustees were among the honored guests. The Banquet was hosted at the Hilton Houston Post Oak where over 400 faithful enjoyed an evening of fellowship, fine food, and excellent music provided by the Lex Valk Trio. Thank you to our beloved Hierarchs, Board Members, clergy and faithful for their continued support of the Convent. Pictures taken by Judy Braun can be found at http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/AOCAphotos by clicking on St George Houston Banquet.
Heartfelt gratitude is extended to Fr. John Salem and St. George in Houston; Nijad and Zeina Fares, who were the Banquet Chairpersons and Sponsors; Mr. Ralph Albercia and Mr. Elias Shaheen, who were the Honorary Chairpersons; and the following:
The Orthodox InterSeminary Movement will meet on the campus of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology this weekend, November 6 and 7. Seminarians from Holy Trinity Seminary, Christ the Savior Seminary and St. Vladimir's Seminary in New York, St. Tikhon's Seminary in Pennsylvania, and a seminarian from St. Herman's in Alaska, approximately 25 in all from outside Holy Cross, will attend.
The keynote address will be given on Saturday morning at 11:30 in the Booras Room by the Very Rev. Archimandrite Joachim Cotsonis, PhD, Director of the Archbishop Iakovos Library and Learning Resource Center at Holy Cross. The talk is entitled "The History of the Image of and devotion to St. Nicholas".
YONKERS, NY—St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary welcomed two prestigious guests from Russia to its campus this fall: the Minister for Justice of the Russian Federation and the President of The International Foundation for the Unity of Orthodox Christian Nations (IFUOCN). Both Russian visitors were drawn to campus because of the seminary’s global influence in theological circles, including the 250 million Orthodox Christians worldwide that share its creed.
In November 2009, the seminary administration welcomed The Honorable Alexander V. Konovalov, the minister for justice, and his wife, Maria Suslina, to chapel services and gave them a campus tour. Mr. Konovalov—whose U.S. counterpart would be the Attorney General—is a devout Orthodox Christian, with a long-standing interest in the works of the former dean of St. Vladimir’s, Father Alexander Schmemann, particularly his views on the challenge of secularism. Father Schmemann, who died in 1983, had enormous religious influence on Russian society during the Soviet Era, through Radio Liberty Broadcasts and samizdat writings—including capturing the notice and admiration of Alexander Solzhenitsyn. The seminary has the distinction of the being the first place Solzhenitsyn visited after his 1974 expulsion from the Soviet Union.
The days are becoming chilly at the Village and the nights are downright cold. That can only mean one thing - Winter Camp must be around the corner. We have two sessions of Winter Camp planned for young people in grades 7 through 12 on the observances of Martin Luther King Jr. weekend (Jan. 15-18) and Presidents weekend (Feb. 12-15). There are two ways to register: online or mail-in paper forms. If you register online, you will need to download and mail the Medical and Snow-tubing forms. We are also accepting Winter Camp Staff applications. Our tentative theme for both sessions of Winter Camp is "The 6 Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make." Don't wait another day, register today! Check back soon for more details and visit our Winter Camp page for additional information.
Titled “Road to Unity,” a conference at Antiochian Village during the last weekend in October brought together Orthodox Christians of all jurisdictions. Sponsored by Orthodox Christian Laity, a group devoted to the cause of Orthodox outreach and unity, the sessions covered subjects such as the legacy of Ligonier, Orthodoxy and American culture, and the need to keep young people in the Church. His Grace Bishop THOMAS of the Antiochian Archdiocese participated, as did John Maddex of Ancient Faith Radio and Fr. Hans Jacobse, an Antiochian priest and author. Metropolitan Jonah of the OCA presented the keynote address, “Unity in Our Time.” Audio for all segments is available from Ancient Faith Radio.
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip joined other American Orthodox Primates in an audience with His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, on Tuesday, Oct. 27. Most of the Primates had also attended the Ninth Annual Orthodox Prayer Service for the United Nations Community the previous evening. Present at the audience were Archbishop Demetrios of America (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese); Metropolitan Philip (Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese); Metropolitan Christopher (Serbian Orthodox Archdiocese); Metropolitan Nicholas (Carpatho- Russian Diocese); Archbishop Nicolae (Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese); Metropolitan Jonah (Orthodox Church in America), Metropolitan Constantine (Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA); Bishop Ilia (Albanian Orthodox Diocese) and Archpriest Alexander Abramov (Representation of the Moscow Patriarchate in the USA). Archbishop Demetrios welcomed His All Holiness on behalf of the Primates.
The remarks of His All Holiness follow:
The Antiochian Archdiocese has launched the new Department of Planning and Development. To learn more about this effort, and read Metropolitan PHILIP's letter of appointment, click here to visit their new web page.
The Order of St. Ignatius and the Dept. of Internet Ministry have worked together to improve the content and presentation of the web section dedicated to the Order, the philanthropic organization of the Antiochian Archdiocese. Click here to visit, and learn more about the Order!
NAC SOYO Special Olympics Awareness Day was this past Sunday (October 18)
This is the day that teens raise awareness of SOYO's ministry to the Special Olympics Athletes. Please remind your parish teen SOYO and or Church treasurer to send in all of the money collected this past Sunday as soon as possible to:
NAC SOYO Special Olympics
Department Of Youth Ministry
PO Box 389
Westwood, MA 02090
Checks should be made payable to "NAC SOYO Special Olympics."
The Department of Youth Ministry will record the donation into the Archdiocese Database and deposit the money into the SOYO Special Olympics Bank Account from which the SOYO Treasurer will pay the bills incurred at the Antiochian Village for the SOYO Special Olympics Program. Please note this is a SOYO program not an Antiochian Village program – which means that SOYO rents the camp from the Village and SOYO pays the bills for this program, so please be sure the funds are sent to the Youth Department and not the camp.
All donations from Special Olympics Awareness Day, as has been done in the past, will be published in a future issue of the WORD Magazine, so parishes can verify their donations.