The Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church reports:
On 26 January 2014, His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Great Antioch and All the East and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia made a joint statement addressed to the participants in the Geneva II International Conference on Syria. Taking part in the Conference are representatives of the opposing parties and the world community. The text of the Statement is given below.
We, Primates of fraternal Orthodox Churches, the Church of Antioch and the Russian Church, met in Moscow in order to once again bear witness to love in Christ, the love which our Churches have preserved intact through centuries and which is addressed to all people regardless their nationality, religion or political views.
Today our common prayers go to the long-suffering Syrian people undergoing unprecedented ordeals. The land, in which Muslims and Christians have lived together for centuries, has been filled with tears of those who are lamenting the death of their relatives and friends and who have been driven away from their homes. The calamity that has come to the once peaceful land spares neither old people nor children, neither Muslims nor Christians. No heart can remain indifferent to the horrible tragedy in Syria.
These days, Switzerland is hosting an international conference which gathered at the negotiating table representatives of the opposing parties and the world community. We address our ardent appeal to the participants in the meeting, asking them to exert every possible effort to end the bloodshed and restore peace in the blessed Syrian land.
His Grace Bishop Basil, Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, reported on January 26, 2014 that St. John the Divine Antiochian Orthodox Church in Lake Charles, LA, with pastors Fr. Michael Pavez and Fr. Philip Rogers, was gutted by fire on Sunday morning following the Liturgy. It appears that the entire interior of the church temple was destroyed.
KPLCtv.com reported that the parish "appeared to have heavy smoke and fire damage. Firefighters and utility crews were still tending to hot spots Sunday afternoon....Crew members said it doesn't appear anyone was inside the building when the fire started. There's no word on what caused the fire, which appeared to have started toward the rear of the structure."
The parish also suffered severe damage about six years ago, said Dn. Elias Nicols, after a hurricane. "It's awful but God willing, we have a resilient group of people here and we're going to go back and rebuild it and have us a new church. We're not giving up on it."
A January 24, 2014 story on the Religion & Ethics Newsweekly program, "Jordan's Syrian Refugees," was produced by the Public Broadcasting Services (PBS). The report featured the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) humanitarian response to Syrian refugees living in Jordan. A PBS team visited Syrian refugees living in a refugee camp and in the city of Amman and offered a firsthand look at the struggles and the heartaches of the hundreds of thousands of Syrians who have fled their country's civil war.
IOCC Country Representative for Jordan Dimitrije Djukic, spoke with PBS reporter Kim Lawton about IOCC's role, and about the difficulties faced by the refugees, arriving at a rate of some 300 a day. "According to the UN High Commission for Refugees," noted Lawton, "almost 600,000 Syrians have officially registered as refugees in this nation of 6.6 million. But aid workers say at least the same number have not registered, largely out of fear of retaliation from Syria. The UN and international aid agencies have been working to meet the dire needs. Faith-based groups are actively mobilizing as well, and many religious leaders say they provide a unique contribution in the midst of the crisis." The United Nations, pointed out Lawton, has described the situation as “the greatest humanitarian catastrophe of modern times.”
Is your parish reaching out for new members in 2014? There has never been more opportunity for parishes to publicize events, broadcast service times, introduce themselves to their surrounding communities, and reach out to newcomers, than they can today through the web. Even the smallest mission now has a simple and effective way to announce its presence.
While the Antiochian.org team doesn't build individual church websites, we have assembled resources to help parishes design and maintain a Website, with 50 members or 500. With today's resources, many of them free, parishioners with little to no technical background can put together a serviceable website that will serve as a point of entry for seekers and Orthodox looking for a church home.
Dr. Christopher Veniamin, professor of Patristics at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Canaan, PA, will deliver the keynote addresses at the St. Emmelia Orthodox Homeschooling Conference at the Antiochian Village in March. Children's workshops will be held for ages three and up. Presentations are meant to cover the spectrum of interests and concerns of parents from "Homeschooling 101" beginners to veterans who are homeschooling teens. Three tracks are offered at each session, focusing on "big picture" questions, ages and stages, and practical tips and techniques.
Registration fees, lodging, and meal packages are offered as economically as possible, with a special pricing cap so families will pay food expenses for their four oldest family members only. Register before February 27 for an early-bird price! In addition to the sessions, which cover homeschooling topics from theological and practical, general and specific perspectives, attendees will participate in services and have beautiful opportunities to experience works from photographer Jocelyn Mathewes, artist Leila Chokheli, illustrator Niko Chocheli, and author Chrissi Hart. Family photo sessions with Jocelyn Mathewes are also offered.
The Very Rev. Michael Gillis, rector at Holy Nativity Orthodox Church in Langley, British Columbia, will be offering regular spiritual reflections in his new podcast on Ancient Faith Radio (AFR), “Praying in the Rain.” Drawing on the wisdom of both ancient and contemporary Church Fathers, Fr. Michael will ponder "the struggles, the ironies, and the disciplines of the spiritual life," notes AFR. Written versions of many of Fr. Michael’s musings can be found at his blog site as well.
January 17th is the celebration of St. Anthony the Great and the name's days of His Grace Bishop Antoun of the Diocese of Miami and of His Grace Bishop Anthony of the Diocese of Toledo. May God grant them many years!
APOLYTIKION OF ST. ANTHONY THE GREAT, TONE 4
Thou didst become like the zealous Elijah in his condition, and followed John the Baptist in his upright ways, becoming a dweller in the wilderness and an establisher of the universe by thy prayer, O Father Anthony. Wherefore, intercede thou with Christ God to save our souls.
Orthodox Christian Network Share the Light Sunday
January 19, 2014
For, "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?
-Orthodox Study Bible Romans 10:13-14
Beloved Clergy, Godly Monastics, and Blessed Faithful:
We greet you in the name of the Lord with the hope that all might hear His Name and understand His message of salvation. We live in the information age where we hear, and see a multitude of messages each and everyday. Our children and grandchildren have never known a world that was not overrun by the influences of the noisy multitude. Will this multitude drown out the voice of Orthodox Christianity? What will our children have to offer when they give birth to their own children and strive to raise them as loving, courageous, faithful human beings? The authentic Church of Christ must have a strong presence in media to share the truth of the Gospel.
The start of a New Year is a time to evaluate our lives and to promise ourselves that we will make a positive change. Share the Light Sunday begins our journey as we dedicate ourselves to learning more about our Orthodox church's media voice in North America. Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) strives each day to provide positive, relevant Orthodox content via multiple delivery platforms, reaching people via broadcast, podcast, video, blogging, and online learning wherever an internet connection is available. On the third Sunday of January designated each year as Share the Light Sunday, we remind you that it is in your power to make a larger change that can affect more people and more families than you can meet in a lifetime.
Joumana will never forget the day she, her husband, and two children abandoned their home in the war-torn Syrian city of Homs. "The situation was getting worse and worse each day, but we didn't want to leave our neighborhood," Joumana recalled. The need to flee came suddenly when they witnessed her mother-in-law killed right before them. After a hasty burial, they left for Damascus with few possessions.
The horrifying memories of war and personal loss continue to haunt Joumana and her family more than a year after they were uprooted from their home and once peaceful life. They, like millions of other Syrians displaced by the conflict, have suffered enormous material and emotional losses that have taken a heavy toll on their mental health. International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) and its church partner, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA), are providing services to help affected families overcome their traumatic experiences and begin rebuilding their lives.
The Antiochian Archdiocese Department of Liturgics and Translations, the source for approved liturgical texts for the Archdiocese, has posted the Church Calendar for the Year 2014. The Calendar can be downloaded as a PDF file, and contains the information about each Epistle and Gospel reading for all Sundays of the year, as well as the dates for the most important liturgical events of 2014. The Very Rev. Edward W. Hughes is the chair of the department, and his contact information as well as many other resources such as all updated Liturgics information, can be found on the Department of Liturgics page,
The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Purpura, chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministry, has announced that the 2014 Francis Maria Scholarship application is now available for college students to download on the Archdiocese's scholarship page. Through a generous gift of the Francis Maria Foundation for Justice and Peace, the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America will once again grant several scholarships in the amount of $2,500 to students attending an accredited college. The scholarships will be granted in July, and all supporting documentation must be postmarked by May 15, 2014 and received by May 22.
Additionally, other scholarships are available to Antiochian Orthodox students, including the Harry & Florence Kouri Scholarship for a Diocese of Wichita graduating High School senior, the Bill Cohlmia and Joan Cohlmia-Razook Memorial Scholarship for the Continuing Education of Diocese of Wichita clergy, an Antiochian Women's Scholarship, the Eastern Diocese Fellowship of St. John the Divine Scholarship, the Eastern Orthodox Committee on Scouting Scholarship, and the Diocese of Toledo Metropolitan Anthony Bashir Memorial Scholarship.
As temperatures across the Midwest and Northeast hit record lows this week, vulnerable populations—the homeless, elderly and working poor—are at particular risk of the dangers posed by the winter storm. Inadequate shelter or a broken furnace can quickly turn into a life-threatening situation. The arctic weather is being blamed for 20 deaths thus far, and emergency rooms have been flooded with cases of hypothermia and frostbite.
In response to the severe weather, Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS) Centers in St. Louis, Cleveland and Pittsburgh are on high alert, ramping up services and assistance. FOCUS Centers have had their doors open to help those in need with hot meals, coats and blankets.
International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) released a statement on January 8, 2014 mourning the passing of IOCC Honorary Board Member Dr. George Farha. Founding member and former Chairman of the IOCC Charles Ajalat said, "Dr. Farha played a critical role during IOCC's formative years with his wisdom, vision and commitment. IOCC owes a great debt to him."
From serving on the IOCC board of directors to supporting countless humanitarian works which assisted people in need of shelter, food or safety, Dr. Farha's tireless efforts to always "put people first" served as a spiritual cornerstone for the organization.
"Dr. George Farha was a man of singular vision and great stature in the Orthodox community and beyond," said Michael S. "Mickey" Homsey, Chairman of IOCC's Board of Directors. "This pious, humble and loving man's lifelong mantra of 'people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care' left an indelible effect on all who were blessed to know him.
MEMORY ETERNAL! Your prayers are requested for the repose of the soul of the newly-departed servant of God, brother, and concelebrant Archpriest James King of St. Athanasius Antiochian Orthodox Church in Goleta, CA who fell asleep in Christ January 7, 2013. The schedule of divine services has not yet been announced.
Condolences may be sent to his wife Khouria Margaret and their family, at 6830 del Playa Drive, Goleta, CA 93117.
On December 24, 2013, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip presided over the celebration of the Great Feast of the Nativity of Christ at his cathedral, St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York. He was assisted by Archpriest Thomas Zain, Vicar-General of the Antiochian Archdiocese and dean of the Cathedral, Priest Adrian Budica, assistant priest at the Cathedral, Archdeacon Hans Elhayek, assistant to the Metropolitan, and Dn. Andre El-Hajj, the Cathedral's deacon. Protopsaltis Sub-deacon Rassem El Massih served as chanter for the feast.
The Orthodox Center for the Advancement of Biblical Studies (OCABS) has released two new volumes in "The Chrysostom Bible" series titled Isaiah: A Commentary, and Jeremiah: A Commentary. Both are written by The Very Rev. Dr. Paul Nadim Tarazi, professor of Biblical Studies and Languages at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary. "Books in the Chrysostom Series are not so much written in honor of John Chrysostom as they are published to continue and promote his legacy as an interpreter of the biblical texts for preaching and teaching God's congregation," notes Dr. Tarazi.
"Isaiah can well be viewed, without exaggeration, as a mini-scripture. By the same token it is no wonder that, besides Genesis—the tone-setting book for the entire scripture in both its Testaments, and Psalms—the book of psalmody of the new Zion, Isaiah is the most quoted Old Testament book in the New Testament," he says, adding that "...the Book of Jeremiah...is the book where God 'alone' stands 'over the nations and over the kingdoms' of his entire earth (Jer 1:10) in his office of sole supreme judge of all, including the deities of the nations (Ps 82)."
Order both books and many other Biblical commentaries from OCABS Press.
Apolytikion of St. Basil, Tone 1
In all the earth that received thy sayings, thy melody did resound, O righteous father, through which thou didst go about and proclaim, as worthy of God, the nature of creatures, cultivating the character of mankind, O thou of kingly Priesthood, Basil. Wherefore, plead thou with Christ God to save our souls.
Fr. John Badeen, former pastor of St. Antony Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, St. Michael Church in Beaumont, Texas, St. George Church in Detroit, Michigan and Archangel Gabriel Church in Lafayette, Louisiana, reposed in retirement early Christmas morning, December 25th, 2013, at the age of 86. Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this time. Fr. John in survived by Khouriya Louise and their children, Farida, James and George.
The Very Rev. Anis Elias fell asleep in the Lord on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at the age of 92. He was born in Saain, Syria in 1921 to Michael Elias and Jamileh Yousif Makhoul, the only son of four children. Father Anis was ordained to the priesthood in 1948 in Syria. In November of 1961, Fr. Anis immigrated to Detroit, Michigan and on June 9, 1962 was assigned to St. Michael Orthodox Church in Monessen, PA. He served as the priest of St. Michael’s for 25 years before retiring.
After his retirement, Fr. Anis moved back to Michigan to be near his family. In February of 1988, he came out of retirement to serve ten years at St. Mary Orthodox Church in Berkley, MI and in Windsor, Canada before his final retirement in July of 1999. However, he continued to serve at the request of Very Rev. George Shalhoub of St. Mary in Livonia, MI, as well as assisting with Fr. George Baalbaki in St. Mary, Berkley.
Noursat and Tele Lumiere, Christian television for Lebanon and the Middle East, will broadcast an encounter with His Eminence Metropolitan Philip on Sunday, December 22, at 3:30 pm Eastern time, repeating at 9:00 pm Eastern.
The 2014 Run for FOCUS is a benefit organized by the Orthodox Christian communities of the San Francisco Bay Area to raise money and awareness for Operation Lace Up, a program of FOCUS North America (Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve). The RUN is scheduled for Saturday, March 22, 2013 at Lake Merced in San Francisco, CA.
Through Operation Lace Up, FOCUS has partnered with a major American shoe company to distribute thousands of new athletic shoes to impoverished children in 28 metropolitan areas across the United States. Support raised through the 2014 Run for FOCUS will allow FOCUS to continue maintaining Operation Lace Up and similar programs that provide aid to children living in poverty stricken communities across the United States.
The impact that a pair of shoes can make in a child's health and educational development is pivotal, as many children are unable to attend school simply because of a lack of shoes. Through this program, and with the help of public school districts across America, hundreds of thousands of children affected by homelessness and poverty will receive two pairs of brand new shoes per year.
At the end of this calendar year, the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM) has published a report summarizing the activities of the ministry throughout the course of 2013. Titled "OCPM's 2013 Impact Report," it shows at a glance the many ways in which OCPM reached out to those behind bars during the last twelve months.
Their Website explains, "As 2013 draws to a close, we share with you our recent report highlighting the impact of OCPM's programs on those in prison and their families....We feel blessed to say that we have witnessed as one Orthodox community how the Lord Jesus Christ has transformed lives.
"We look forward to 2014, when we will launch some wonderful new programs that will involve your communities, families and churches. These programs will allow us to share the Faith with more people and draw new volunteers into our ministry."
Ancient Faith Radio (AFR) recently introduced several new podcasts. A Spanish-language podcast features homilies by Fr. Nicholas Andruchow, the priest of the only Orthodox orphanage in North America. Every Sunday Fr. Nicholas offers the homily at the St. Innocent Orphanage for boys. This is the opportunity to reflect on the Gospel from the point of view of Orthodox Christianity in Latin America," notes the AFR Website about Hasta la Gloria. "Through God’s grace this will help you ascend to the heavens."
Another new podcast was launched in cooperation with Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF). Titled Sowing Seeds: Building Orthodox Campus Ministry, the episodes promise to help listeners "learn about the leadership, vision, and direction of the OCF with Executive Director Jennifer Nahas and AFR host John Maddex."
Beloved in Christ,
I write these words just after the 2013 Orthodox Institute at Antiochian Village. The fellowship and book-signings were a chance to get to know and speak with some of the prominent people in the Orthodox Church. The presentations were truly educational and inspirational. An eight-panel display of "Art and Symbols of the Catacombs" shed light on the images that were most important to the early Christians. All together it was a memorable and valuable weekend.
Almost a hundred people participated in The Orthodox Institute at Antiochian Village, October 31 – November 3, 2013. The theme was "Blessed is the Kingdom: Acts 2:42 and Today," and the goal was to answer the question, "Can we revive the spirit of giving for which the early church was known?"
Nisrine, 23, a Syrian refugee, huddles with her heavily bundled newborn daughter next to the welcome warmth of a propane stove provided by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). Winter storms brought heavy snow and frigid temperatures to northern Lebanon's Bekaa Valley where thousands of Syrian refugee families live in flimsy vinyl tents or tenement buildings that are little more than concrete shells with no electricity or water. Lebanon has no designated refugee camps in spite of the estimated 840,000 Syrians who fled there to escape the civil war raging in their homeland. The severe winter weather and lack of adequate shelter leaves vulnerable families with young children exposed to the elements and threatens their health and well-being.
IOCC, an ACT Alliance member, is responding now to the urgent needs of 900 Syrian refugee families living in Lebanon's coldest regions with the distribution of stoves and fuel for heating and cooking. IOCC is also providing new refugee mothers like Nisrine with pre and post natal care as well as health care for refugee infants and young children under five years of age.
Since March 2012, IOCC has provided humanitarian relief to more than 890,000 Syrian people displaced in their own country or living as refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Armenia. For more information, contact: Rada K. Tierney, IOCC Media Relations, 443-823-3489