The Website LevantReport.com with Managing Editor Brad Hoff published an interview on March 5, 2014 with The Very Rev. Joseph Huneycutt, pastor of the St. Joseph Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Houston, TX. Titled "Syrian Christians in a Time of Conflict," the interview comes over two years after Fr. Joseph traveled to Syria as part of an official delegation of American Antiochian Christian pastors and leaders sent to assess the situation of Syria's Christians.
In December, St. Joseph in Houston sponsored a benefit concert, "Hope, Humanity, Healing," which raised $18,000.00. The proceeds were distributed to the suffering Syrian people through the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America's Sister Diocese of Bosra-Hauran, Jabal al-Arab, and the Golan in southern Syria, as well as through the St. Gregory Orthodox Society for the Elderly and Orphans in Damascus. In the interview, Fr. Joseph soberly notes that "...the Christian presence in southern Syria has diminished, the charitable support of refugees continues; those who remain live in danger every moment. It will take heroic hard work to rebuild – the land and the people – once this war comes to an end." Read the full text of the interview
A recently published anthology, The Orthodox Church in the Arab World 700-1700: An Anthology of Sources, is a comprehensive introduction to the first millennium of Arabic-speaking Orthodoxy accessible to English speakers. Published by the Northern Illinois University Press, the book is the work of two Orthodox scholars, Samuel Noble, a doctoral candidate in religious studies at Yale University, and Alexander Treiger, associate professor in the Department of Classics and Program in Religious Studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Noble explains that "...in the Western historiography of Christianity, the Arab Christian Middle East is treated only peripherally, if at all." A sample of the book's contents includes: An 8th century Apology for the Christian Faith; a work by Theodore Abu Qurra on discerning the true religion; a disputation of the monk Abraham of Tiberias with the Muslims; lives of little-known saints and martyrs; the world history of Agapios; the devotional poetry of Sulayman al-Ghazzi; the mystical treatise the Noetic Paradise; a treatise on the priesthood by Agathon of Homs; the Letter to a Muslim Friend by Paul of Antioch; the unpublished notebook and diplomatic correspondence of the Patriarch Macarius; and Paul of Aleppo’s travel account that sheds light on the history of the Orthodox Church in the Ottoman Empire, Southeastern Europe, and Russia.
The 2014 Special Olympics Sports Camp is scheduled to be held at the Antiochian Village August 8-16, 2014. This ministry is sponsored by the North American Council of Teen SOYO, and is the second longest running program of Special Olympics Pennsylvania, serving approximately 175 campers each season. It is the premier SOYO outreach program, now in its 33rd year of service. Each year SOYO teens raise the funds on Special Olympics Awareness Day.
In addition to the funds raised, SOYO teens provide at least half the coaching staff, and many adult volunteers participate as well. The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Purpura, chair of the Department of Youth Ministry, has announced that the 2014 Special Olympic Coaches Application is now available for those youth who are interested in working at the Sports Camp. Additionally, for adults over twenty years of age, the Special Olympics Volunteer application is posted as well.
BROOKLINE, MA—As a feature of the Costas Consultation in Global Mission series, Bishop Elia Toumeh of Wadi Al Nassara will give the 7 p.m. Keynote Address as part of the all-day event "Christians in Syria at the Crossroads," Friday, March 28, 1 p.m.–8:30 p.m. His Grace is a professor at the University of Balamand, Lebanon, and he will speak in the Maliotis Center at Hellenic College Holy Cross.
The event also features Dr. Elizabeth Prodromou (Harvard University; former Vice Chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom), the presentation of student papers, and the film "Displaced in their Homeland" about Christians in Iraq, produced by Fady Mekhaeel. The 2014 BTI Costas Consultation in Global Mission is presented by the International Mission & Ecumenism Committee of the Boston Theological Institute in partnership with Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.
For more information, contact: Josh Cole, 617-850-1217
On March 8, 2014, the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East issued the following statement regarding the Synaxis of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches held at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople:
The delegation of the Antiochian Patriarchate has participated in the Synaxis of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches and its preparatory meetings held at the Headquarters of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople from March 6 to 9, 2014. The delegation, consisted of Their Eminences Metropolitan Saba (Esber) and Metropolitan Silouan (Moussi), and Father Porphyrios (Georgi), has worked with great joy and clear dedication to make this Synaxis succeed. His Beatitude Patriarch John X was absent from the Synaxis due to health reasons.The Antiochian delegation raised the conflict between the Antiochian and the Jerusalemite Patriarchates. The delegation endeavored, under the direct guidance of His Beatitude Patriarch John X, and in collaboration with His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch, to find a solution for this conflict according to the agreement which was drafted at the meeting held in Athens– June 2013 – and attended by the representatives from the Churches of Constantinople, Antioch and Jerusalem.
Listen to an interview with Dr. Matthew Stiffler, researcher at the Arab American National Museum
In cooperation with The Antiochian Orthodox Basilica of St. Mary in Livonia, MI, the Arab American National Museum of Dearborn is presenting works by the world-renowned artist Vlasios Tsotsonis from March 1-June 1, 2014. Tsotsonis' artwork is found in churches around the globe, including one of Christianity's preeminent pilgrimage sites, Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This special exhibit is titled "Sacred Scenes: Icons of the Orthodox Church" and is available for viewing in the Main Floor Gallery of the Michigan museum.
In addition to original, large-scale pieces by the artist, the exhibition explores the establishment and growth of Arab American Orthodox communities. Also included are studies for work Tsotsonis is completing during the run of the exhibition at St. Mary in Livonia, home to the artist's first U.S. pieces.
Visit the Museum's Website for gallery hours and details.
Sunday of Orthodoxy 2014
To Be Read from the Pulpit and Printed in the Bulletin
Beloved in the Lord:
Greetings in the name of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ on this First Sunday of the Great Fast, commonly called the Sunday of Orthodoxy.
On this glorious day throughout our Antiochian Archdiocese, we remember all our seminarians, in various Orthodox schools of theology, both here and abroad, who are preparing to take up the Cross of our Lord and follow Him. Upon graduation, they will be faced with a world totally different from the one which they left behind before entering the seminary. They will be our future pastors, teachers, confessors, and administrators in our various parishes, working with our children, elderly, and all the faithful, leading them to the kingdom of God. Most importantly, they will be the ones who stand before the holy altar and offer up prayers to the all-holy Trinity on behalf of the people. It is therefore incumbent that we provide them with the best possible education and preparation for this sacred and holy ministry.
With that in mind, we respectfully ask you that remember these seminarians in your prayers today, as always, and consider a monatery gift for their theological education, keeping in mind that qualified men studying for the priesthood receive full scholarships from the Archdiocese. Make your check payable to your local parish and the parish council will forward one check to the Archdiocese for the full amount. Help insure our future today! May your Lenten journey be filled with many blessings.
Your Father in Christ,
The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph F. Purpura, chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries for the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, notes that "there are currently several parishes looking to hire full time youth directors. If you are interested in working full time in parish youth work, please contact me via email, at FrJoseph@OrthodoxYouth.com.
Job requirements for the positions are listed on the Orthodox Jobs Website.
Antiochian priest The Very Rev. Stephen Rogers, rector of St. Ignatius Orthodox Church in Franklin, TN, has offered a series of nine talks at his parish on Orthodox Spirituality. Ancient Faith Radio has posted them as an "Ancient Faith Special" for the 2014 Lenten season. In "Purification, Illumination, and Deification: Orthodox Spirituality," Fr. Stephen discusses the passions, and how the disciplines of the Church such as prayer, confession, and reading the Scriptures, can help us acquire the Holy Spirit and find deep fulfillment in Christ.
The Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM) has launched "Blessings Beyond Bars," a Lenten youth project that teaches children and young adults about prison ministry. An organized lesson plan and do-it-yourself craft activity helps students turn shoeboxes into mock prison cells. The lesson plan and step-by-step craft instructions are available at OCPM's Website.
Youth can also collect donations in the shoeboxes to help OCPM fill prisons with Bibles, prayer books, icons, and Orthodox books. This project can be done with your parish, Sunday School, youth group, family or friends during Lent.
The Spring 2014 issue of DIAKONIA is now available online. This issue highlights The Diocese of Los Angeles and the West and The Diocese of Eagle River and the Northwest, and contains:
- A Lenten message from His Eminence Archbishop Joseph
- A message from spiritual advisor Fr. David Hovik
- A message from Diocesan President Melinda Bentz
- Happenings Around The Diocese Of Los Angeles & the West, by Diocesan PR Director Charmaine Darmour
- The Antiochian Women of North America: Who are they? And what is their Focus and Purpose? by Lucy Hanna
- Embracing Orthodox Lenten Traditions, by Heidi Blair
- Syrian War Orphans: Their Daily Struggle
...and more! Click here to download (PDF).
The Department of Convention and Conference Planning has provided updated manuals to assist in the planning of Diocesan Parish Life Conferences and the Bienniel Archdiocesan Convention. Both manuals are available as PDF downloads:
- Bienniel Convention Planning Manual (updated Feb. 2014)
- Diocesan Parish Life Conference Manual (updated Feb. 2014)
These and other Convention and Conference planning resources are always available at www.antiochian.org/DCCP/Downloads.
Syrian Relief Dinner & Prayer Service
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church
985 Providence Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA 15237
(opposite La Roche College, 9000 Babcock Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA 15237)
Tickets $50.00 per person (age 18 and under $20, age 6 and under free)
Prayer Service begins at 4 p.m. - Lenten dinner and Reception from 5 - 7 p.m.
Additional donations will be appreciated. Net proceeds will benefit Syrian Relief Efforts.
Hosting this event will be the following Hierarchs:
- Greek Diocese - His Eminence Metropolitan Savas
- Antiochian Diocese - His Grace Bishop Thomas
- Orthodox Church in America - His Grace Bishop Melchisedek
- Serbian Diocese - His Grace Bishop Dr. Mitrophan
- Ukrianian Orthodox Church - His Grace Bishop Daniel
- Carpatho-Russian - His Grace Bishop Gregory
Sponsoring organizations: Philoptochos of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, IOCC Pittsburgh Metropolitan Committee, and Antiochian Orthodox Community
Online (preferred method): www.iocc.org/pittsburgh, or
Call Sophie at 412-341-6869, email@example.com, or
Laura at IOCC 877-803-4622, or
Mail: IOCC, 110 West Road, Suite 360, Baltimore, Maryland 21204, or
Ask if tickets are available in your home parish.
Two books from Ancient Faith Publishing by Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou provide food for thought during the Lenten season. In the new release Thirty Steps to Heaven: The Ladder of Divine Ascent for All Walks of Life, Archimandrite Vassilios interprets the weighty classic, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, for the ordinary Christian, helping non-monastics to see how to apply the principles of The Ladder in everyday life. In Meditations for Great Lent, he uses hymns from the Lenten Triodion and the Scripture readings appointed for the season, to reveal how our fast can be made acceptable: to fast not only from food but from sin; to fast with love and humility, as a means to an end and not an end in itself.
Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou is a priest of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain. He was born in London in 1977 and holds degrees in Pastoral and Social Theology, Classics, and Byzantine Music. He is also the author of Meditations for Advent (Ancient Faith Publishing), Journey to the Kingdom: An Insider’s Look at the Liturgy and Beliefs of the Eastern Orthodox Church (Paraclete Press), and numerous articles on Christian Orthodox faith and theology.
The start of February, 2014 in New England came with a reprieve from the cold weather and storms which had punished the northeast this winter. The climate instead was perfect for the newly organized innovative program, "Diocesan Family Day." The tagline on the flyers for the event read "bringing together our finest...our people and our traditions" and it certainly came true. For many years in the Diocese of Worcester and New England, the Antiochian Women have sponsored the pre-Lenten retreat, and for five years running young people from the parishes have gathered for Youth Day. So the thought this year was, why not combine them, and why not add more events so everyone in the diocesan family can participate? The Family Day, held at the church of St. John of Damascus in Dedham, was, in a word, "fabulous!"
Chesterton, IN (AFR) On Saturday, February 22, 2014, Ancient Faith Radio (AFR) released an interview with Metropolitan Antony, primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the United States, about the crisis in Ukraine. In the half hour interview, AFR's Kevin Allen asked questions related to the protests in Ukraine, and discussed the political climate, the hopes for peace, and the role of the Orthodox Churches in the region.
For three months, Ukrainian protestors have occupied Kiev's Maidan, or Independence Square. They are demanding closer ties to the European Union, changes to the Ukraine's constitution, and altering of the government's power structures. There have been violent clashes between protestors and police, with hundreds of people killed in the past few weeks. Orthodox and Catholic priests have courageously ministered to both protesters and government forces in the midst of the chaos. In the podcast, Metropolitan Antony helped to unravel the complexity of the political environment, and also explained the involvement of the Orthodox church in preserving lives.
Antiochian clergy and parishioners should be reminded that camper scholarships are again available to each parish and mission in the Antiochian Archdiocese through the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch. Applications were mailed to all parish priests on January 16, 2014. If you are a priest and have not received that mailing, please be in immediate contact with Fr. Anthony Yazge of Antiochian Village, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that applications to receive your scholarships ($700 per parish) must be received by Fr. Anthony no later than Saturday, March 1, 2014. More camping information is available from the Department of Camping.
February 12, 2014 (Baltimore, MD) Syrian civilians evacuated from the embattled city of Homs under a UN-negotiated cease-fire are being aided by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) as they flee to safety. IOCC and its church partner in Syria, The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA), are in Homs assisting in the evacuation that began this weekend and are providing emergency relief to the Syrian people fleeing the city.
Among the evacuees were ten youths who were immediately taken to the nearest medical facility for needed vaccines and medical attention. IOCC/GOPA also assisted in providing the young evacuees with food, clothing, shoes, hygiene kits, and blankets.
Nearly 400 residents from the Homs neighborhoods of Alaqrabas, Jouret Shiah, Khalidiya, Karabis, and Bustan Al Diwan fled the city today on foot flanked by UN humanitarian vehicles for protection. Those who were not too weak from months of malnutrition walked for more than two hours before reaching safety.
MEMORY ETERNAL! The Very Rev. John Elias was born in 1939 in Hafa, Latakia, Syria. He passed away on February 11, 2014 in Jacksonville, Florida. Father John faithfully served the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese in America for 40 years in the following parishes:
St. Mary's Yonkers, NY; St. Thomas in Sioux City, Iowa; St. George in Akron, OH; St. George in El Paso, Texas; St. Mary in Omaha, NE; and St. George in Jacksonville, FL, where he served from 1992-2001.
Archpriest John was preceded in death by his parents: Nassim and Badia; his sisters Yvonne, Azizeh, and Mother Antonina. He is survived by his wife, Kh. Nawall Elias; his children Yvonne, Jany (husband), Azizeh, Zaharia (husband), Nassim, Dana (wife); his grandchildren: Reema, Nicole, John, Alina, Michael, Christopher; his brothers Aziz and Spiro, and his sisters Hind and Nadia. Father John was a beloved priest, son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, and friend. May his memory be eternal. Christ is Risen!
The Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) has announced a Day of Prayer for college students across the United States as they begin the 2014 Lenten journey at the beginning of March. OCF Day of Prayer is a program that unites the various chapters across North America in prayer. Each year, on the first day of Great Lent (Clean Monday), participating OCF chapters take part in 24 hours of unceasing prayer. Each school takes a one-hour slot to pray for themselves, their chapters and their fellow students.
Chapters of OCF are invited to sign up for an hour of prayer that begins at 6:00 p.m. EST on Forgiveness Sunday, March 2. Chapters are invited to submit prayer requests for family members and friends, and each prayer intention will be forwarded to participating chapters in the Day of Prayer commemorations.
More information is available on the Day of Prayer webpage at the OCF's Website.
The Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture at Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology will host the Boston Byzantine Music Festival at the Maliotis Center on the Holy Cross Brookline, MA campus on February 24–25, 2014. The festival will feature concerts by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir and by the ensemble En Chordais, with lectures by Dr. Emmanouil Giannopoulos, assistant professor at the Higher Ecclesiastical Academy in Ioannina, Greece, and Dr. Kyriakos Kalaitzidis, Faculty of Music Studies, University of Athens.
The festival coincides with the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the New Method of Analytical Notation, a major landmark in the history of Byzantine music.
Individual concert tickets are available for $40.00, or $70 for both concerts. Student tickets can be purchsed for $15.00 per concert. Visit the Festival Website for more information and to order tickets.
A new video from the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS) produced by award winning filmmaker Kevin Bryce, sheds light on American children who are hungry. Children in needy communities in America sometimes go a day or more without eating because their families can't afford groceries, and FOCUS is working to address that situation.
Abe Abraham, age 101, fell peacefully asleep in the Lord at his home on Wednesday, January 29, 2014. He is preceded in death by his parents, Sleyman and Zahia Abraham, brother, James and wife, Georgette, sister-in-law, Margaret, and brother-in-law, Dr. Thomas Bander.
Abe was an officer in the United States Army serving as a lieutenant in India during World War II. He was an active member of the Variety Club of Grand Rapids and a life member of St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church, Grand Rapids, MI, serving in several leadership roles. He has served on the Board of Trustees of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America since 1955, its longest serving member. Metropolitan Philip presented him with the Antonian Gold Medal for this dedication and leadership to the church. He is also a life member of the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch.
MEMORY ETERNAL! Your prayers are requested for the repose of the soul of the newly-departed servant of God, brother, and concelebrant Archpriest George Aswad, pastor emeritus of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Niagara Falls, NY, who fell asleep in Christ early on the morning of January 31, 2014. Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this time.
Condolences may be sent to his wife Khouria Grace and their children and grandchildren care of the parish email address, email@example.com.
Visit this Website to add your memories and read reflections and tributes for Fr. George.
(From His Grace Bishop Basil)
Since its inception in 1993 by Charles R. Marge, the Boston Byzantine Choir has endeavored to make Byzantine chant and the Orthodox Christian faith accessible to the English-speaking world. The choir grew out of the rich chanting tradition of St. Mary Orthodox Church with The Very Rev. Antony Hughes, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The choir has sung at universities, parishes and music festivals throughout New England.
In 2007, The Boston Byzantine Choir was honored to participate in "The Ascending Voice," a symposium of sacred a cappella music held at Pepperdine University. The choir has also sung multiple times for Orthodox Education Day at St. Vladimir's Seminary and the Sacred Music Institute of the Antiochian Archdiocese. The Boston Byzantine Choir is best known for its five recordings of Byzantine Chant in English, available from Ancient Faith Publishing.