News


D.C. Conference Features Themes of Ecology and Theology

On November 11, 2013, at Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Washington, DC, the Orthodox Fellowship of the Transfiguration will sponsor a conference with the theme “On Earth as it is in Heaven: Putting Orthodox Theology and Ecology into Practice.”

The conference brings together Orthodox hierarchs, clergy, and informed laity to explore the many facets of this issue. His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese  will be the first keynote speaker. Dr. James Hansen, famed scientist and director emeritus of the National Atmospheric and Space Administration (NASA), will open up the afternoon program with a second keynote address.

The title of the conference reflects a striving to align lifestyle and actions with Orthodox theology. Registration is a sliding scale of $20 to $200, and participants may contribute according to their ability. Scholarships are available for those who need assistance. For further information, visit the Website of the Orthodox Fellowship of the Transfiguration or contact the OFT office at (707) 573‑3161 during afternoon and evening hours.  

 

Calling All Youth: Participate in the YouTube Challenge!

Fr. Anthony Yagze, Chair of the Departments of College Ministry, and Camping, encourages all youth in the Antiochian Archdiocese to participate in the YouTube challenge.  "It's an interesting opportunity for young people!" he notes. 

Welcome to the 2013 Orthodox Church in America (OCA) YouTube Challenge!

The Challenge

Youth and Young Adult (Ages 14-28) should respond with an original video by midnight on November 15, 2013, to the following question: "What is the Gospel?" Participants may wish to reflect on:

  • The essential message of Jesus Christ
  • What his actions and words tell us about humanity and divinity
  • How the Gospel message can be preached in your particular environment (school, work, family, etc..)

Participants may wish to use their video to deliver a traditional speech, or find ways of more creatively answering the challenge through visual imagery and poetic license.

Diary of a Pilgrimage: His Eminence Archbishop Joseph in Greece and Serbia

His Eminence and pilgrimage group at MeteoraHis Eminence and pilgrimage group at MeteoraHis Eminence Archbishop Joseph of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West is leading a diocesan delegation on a holy pilgrimage to Greece and Serbia, and a daily diary and photo galleries of the trip are being posted on the Diocese of Los Angeles Website. On September 20, 2013 at the Los Angeles International Airport, Sayidna Joseph invoked the intercessions of St. Nicholas, the patron and protector of his Holy Cathedral and the protector of travelers, before the group embarked on the journey of more than 8,000 miles to Thessaloniki, Greece. Archbishop Joseph also called upon the intercessions of the Theotokos, asking for a spiritually uplifting two weeks of visiting some of the holiest churches and monasteries in the Orthodox Christian world.

Some of the sites included in the itinerary are the Souroti Monastery, St. Demetrios Church, and the Catacombs of St. John the Baptist. Read more details about the trip in the pilgrimage diary.

 

Bishop Basil Consecrates New Temple in Erie, CO

St. Luke Church in Erie, Colorado was consecrated by His Grace Bishop Basil on Sept. 28 with 318 faithful present including neighboring clergy. A joyous reception in the church hall followed. It was a wonderful day of thanksgiving to God.

The new temple had its first Divine Liturgy on Pentecost 2010. Since that time, a wood carved iconostasis from Bulgaria was installed along with additional iconography that now covers most of the ceiling under the dome.

The church has grown in numbers since its beginning in 1991 with 17 households using a small rental space in the old mining town of Lafayette, Colorado (a small community 10 miles from Boulder and 30 miles north of Denver). His Grace Bishop Antoun ordained Fr. David Mustian and chrismated the original founders who were all converts to Holy Orthodoxy. The church continues to have many converts, along with a good mix of life- long Orthodox members from various ethnic backgrounds.

Fr. Thomas Zain, Archdiocese Vicar General, Interviewed on Syria by Hellenic Public Radio

Archpriest Thomas Zain, Vicar General of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese and Dean of St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral of Brooklyn, NY, was interviewed at length on September 14 on the situation in Syria by Archimandrite Eugene Pappas of Hellenic Public Radio. The interview is available for listening below in its entirety.

20/25 Anniversary Event for Holy Cross and Bishop Thomas

Clergy at the 20/25 Anniversary celebrationClergy at the 20/25 Anniversary celebrationBy Archpriest Gregory Mathewes-Green

The clergy and faithful of Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox Church in Linthicum, Maryland, welcomed His Grace Bishop Thomas to our Patronal Feast of the Elevation of the Cross from September 13-15, 2013. Along with His Grace Bishop Melchizedek (Orthodox Church in America), over twenty visiting clergy and many other well-wishers joined us in commemorating both the 20th Anniversary of the founding of Holy Cross as well as Sayedna Thomas' 25th year of ordination. The weekend also saw the ordinations of Lt. Col. Kelvin Gardner (chaplain, USAF). In total, four services and a banquet were held. Also included in the weekend was the annual retreat of the deacons of the Eastern dioceses with renowned scholar Dr. Christopher Veniamin, professor of Patristics at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary.

Hellenic College and Holy Cross Celebrate 75 Years

Hellenic College Holy Cross celebrated its 75th Anniversary name day feast with a four-day Jubilee September 12–15, 2013. The event focused on celebrating the history of the community while continuing to highlight the School's significance as, in the words of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, "the heart and the mind of our Church in America." Over the course of the 75 years of the school's existence, many Antiochian students have prepared for the priesthood or lay ministry in the Church through their studies at Holy Cross. 

His Eminence presided over festal services as crowds overflowing from the Holy Cross Chapel watched on high-definition video screens under a tent. In the Vespers service on Friday evening, second-year seminarians received their crosses and Masters of Divinity candidates entering their final year of studies received their rasso [cassocks] as families, trustees, and Jubilee visitors came together in prayer, thanksgiving, and celebration.

Read the full story and view the photo gallery.

 

Metropolitan Philip Interviewed by Boston NPR on Syria

His Eminence Metropolitan Philip was interviewed this week by Boston's NPR radio station for their Here and Now program concerning the plight of the ancient Orthodox Christian communities of Syria. The interview is available for listening, and as a written transcript, both available here.

His Eminence in particular highlighted his concern for the Monastery of St. Thekla in Maloula, Syria. (Read an appeal for the monastery from the Patriarchate of Antioch here.) Metropolitan Philip said in part:

"My concern is about St. Thecla's Convent and other holy places in Syria, which are threatened. The people of Ma'loula still speak the language of Christ, the Aramaic language, and this is the uniqueness of this town, and we are worried about its destruction. Already 400 families have left from Ma'loula. They fled to Damascus."

Full interview available here.

Antiochian Scholar Offers Keynote Address at Conference

Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative, September 2013 (Photo: loimission.net)Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative, September 2013 (Photo: loimission.net)Antiochian scholar and author Dr. Bradley Nassif, professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at North Park University, recently participated in an international meeting between Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Evangelical church leaders held in Albania during the first week in September, 2013. Convened at the invitation of Archbishop Anastasios Yannoulatos of Tirana, Durrës and All Albania, the conference gathered 46 Eastern and Oriental Orthodox and Evangelical leaders from 20 different countries at St. Vlash Monastery in Albania for the first international consultation of the Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative

Addressing the topic "Tradition, Catholicity and the Mind of the Church," Dr. Nassif reminded his audience that when Orthodox Christians say one thing, evangelical Christians often hear something completely different. In frank discussion and a spirit of respect and hospitality, participants wrestled with the challenging issues of proselytism, canonical territory, salvation, justification, and theosis, resolving to continue to journey together with a second international gathering already being planned for the early autumn of 2014.

Speaking to the theme "The Mission of God," Archbishop Anastasios noted that “The Spirit ceaselessly gives life to the Church and to each of the Church’s members, transforming them into living cells of the mystical body of Christ, enabling it to partake in His continuing mission for the salvation of the entire cosmos.” Speakers reviewed recent developments in Evangelical missiology and mission practice and pointed out areas of difference and similarity between Orthodox and Evangelical understandings of "The Mission of God." 

Updates From Antiochian Village Camp

Village at Home, FloridaVillage at Home, FloridaSeptember, 2013

Antiochian Village reports that in an effort to stay connected to campers and introduce young people to the camp experience, the Village at Home program is running several programs this fall. In Village at Home, camp staff visit a church at the invitation of the priest, and run a modified day of camp in the parish. Hosting parishes often extend invitations to neighboring churches with hope of exposing as many young people to the Antiochian Village camping program. Former staff members to join in for the day to assist with the program, which replicates as much as possible the typical camper's day at the Village.

The following Village at Home days are scheduled:

Additionally, camp dates for the 2014 season have been posted. The season's earliest camp is Winter Camp in February, and the last camp to wrap up is the Special Olympics Sports Camp during the second week of August.

 

Fall 2013 Issue of DIAKONIA Available Online

The Fall 2013 issue of DIAKONIA is now available online. This issue highlights the North American Board, and contains:

  • The Antiochian Women and Martyrdom: A message from His Eminence Archbishop Joseph
  • A message from His Grace Bishop John
  • A 40th Anniversary message from NAB President Violet Robbat
  • An introduction to the 2013-2015 North American Board

...and more! Click here to download (PDF).

OCF's Real Break 2014 Registration is Open

September 16, 2013

The Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) reports:

OCF's "Real Break" aims to prepare college students to be socially informed Orthodox Christian citizens of this world, while directing their focus on the world to come, the kingdom of heaven. Built on a foundation of fellowship, education, worship, and service, Real Break provides students the opportunity to understand the true meaning of seeing Christ in the other—traveling to all parts of the world deepening their faith, serving those in need, and cultivating relationships with like-minded peers.

Register, donate, view the list of Real Break trips

IOCC Aid Helps Newly Displaced Families In Syria

Photo: IOCC/GOPAPhoto: IOCC/GOPASept. 9, 2013

Give to the IOCC's Syrian relief efforts

Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — Throngs of displaced Syrians crowd before the gates of an Orthodox church in the coastal governorate of Tartous, awaiting their turns to register for humanitarian assistance at one of the four offices IOCC and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA) have established in the governorate to assist with the influx of people needing aid. IOCC is responding to the most urgent humanitarian needs of thousands of displaced families who have sought the relative safety of Tartous from areas of intense conflict in Homs, Aleppo and Idlib.

IOCC/GOPA volunteers work diligently to register the thousands of weary and homeless Syrian people who gather daily seeking food, shelter and basic household items like bedding and blankets. More than 3,300 displaced families have been registered to receive assistance such as housing support, crisis counseling, and remedial classes at a makeshift school for 500 displaced children. In response to the needs of the growing number of Syrian families arriving to Tartous and other governorates, IOCC is working to expand the assistance it is providing.

In the meantime, the IOCC has also helped resettle families displaced from the historic town of Maaloula. Read about these efforts on IOCC's Website.

 

Assembly of Bishops Encyclical for OCF College Student Sunday on Sept. 15

The Lord’s Day After the Exaltation of the Cross, September 15th/29th, 2013 

“Behold now, what is so good or so pleasant as for brothers to dwell together in unity?”  Psalm 132:1 

Beloved Clergy, Godly Monastics, and Blessed Faithful,

On behalf of the members of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, we greet you in the Joy of our Lord Jesus Christ as we commence the 2013-14 Academic School Year. The wonderful verse recounted above comes to us from the Psalmist David. Its brilliance and simplicity should inspire us all as Orthodox Christians to strive for active engagement, participation, connection and interaction with one another through all stages of life and development in the life of the Orthodox Christian. 

Pray for Those Affected by Flooding in Colorado

His Grace Bishop Basil sends this urgent prayer request from Fr. David Mustian, Dean of the Rocky Mountain Deanery and proistamenos at St. Luke Church in Erie, CO:

Your Grace: Master, bless! News reports about the '100 year flood' in Colorado are very true. We ask for your prayers and those of our DOWAMA Clergy Brotherhood. I heard this morning from a parishioner asking for special prayers for her elderly mother Batool in a downtown Boulder apartment who was recently referred to hospice. They cannot reach her due to the floods and evacuations. Fr. Lester Bundy told me yesterday that his daughter called saying their home was 'lost.' Some people have died, some are in isolated areas, some without utilities and without safe drinking water. Emergency workers are doing what they can, to get people to shelters. Weather reports call for more rain. Our church temples are so far not effected in any major way, just a few leaks. Some areas are fine as well. Thank you.

Yours in Christ,
Father David

Metropolitan Philip Thanks Russian Church for Support of Syrian Christians

Courtesy of the Moscow Patriarchate:

His Eminence Philip (Saliba), Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America, head of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, sent a message to the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, which reads, in particular: “We monitor with gratitude your tireless efforts in support of the Christians, and all the God-fearing people of Syria.”

His Eminence Metropolitan Philip expresses his conviction that the forces responsible for stirring up the conflict in the country “have ulterior motives in mind, not the least of which is to expunge the area of Christians who have been living in that land peacefully with Muslims for many years under the secular government…”

The hierarch of the Church of Antioch thanked the Russian Church for carrying out the fund-raising campaign and sending the money collected “to help the needy, homeless and downtrodden people of Syria” who have been suffering from “the uncivil war that continues to rage.”

“Throughout history, Russia has protected the Orthodox of the Middle East in times of need and it seems history is repeating itself once again,” the letter reads. His Eminence Metropolitan Philip expressed his gratitude to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia for his support in this difficult time and asked him “to remember the victims of this barbarism” in his prayers.

Videos from Archdiocese Russian Pilgrimage

The following videos feature the Dormition Patriarchal Divine Liturgy that His Grace Bishop Nicholas, Fr. Thomas Zain of New York City, and Fr. Mousa Haddad of Chicago celebrated with His Holiness Kirill the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia. See here for the full story of the pilgrimage, including a photo gallery.

Memory Eternal! + Ramon Ghawali (Ghazaleh)

From St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral, Coral Gables, FL:

St. George Cathedral is saddened to inform you of the passing into eternal life of Ramon Ghawali (Ghazaleh) at the age of 71.

The Clergy and Council of St. George Cathedral offer their sincerest condolences to his wife, Suhayla, his children and their families, Joudeh and Muna, Elias and Reem, Ghada and Sameer Al-Ghawali, Mary and Elia Sammour, and Roland, his brothers and sisters across the United States, and the Ghawali and Kattan families in Beit Jala, Palestine, on the loss of their beloved, Ramon.

May Christ, who is our life and resurrection, give rest to the soul of the servant of God, Ramon, with all the Saints and may He grant comfort, patience, and strength to his family.

The following arrangements have been made:

Sunday, September 8 - The Viewing will be held at St. George Cathedral from 6:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. The Funeral Service will be held during the Wake at 7:30 p.m. A Mercy Meal will be offered at St. George Cathedral Hall after the Funeral Service.

Monday, September 9 - The Final Viewing will be held at St. George Cathedral beginning at 10:00 a.m. followed by the Trisagion Service at 10:30 a.m. The Procession and Burial Service will be held after the service. A Mercy Meal will be offered at St. George Cathedral Hall after the Burial Service.

May his memory be eternal!

Encyclical for Assembly Sunday, September 15

His Grace Bishop Basil, Secretary of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, writes: This is an important Encyclical from Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, chair of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, concerning Assembly IV which will be held later this month in Chicago. The encyclical is to be published and/or read to our people on "Assembly Sunday," September 15th, and the prayer which appears in the encyclical is to be said at the end of Divine Liturgy that Lord's Day in all church temples.

September 15, 2013

To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Chairs and Members of Parish Councils, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Members of Philanthropic Organizations, the Youth and Youth Workers, and the entire Orthodox Christian Family in North and Central America

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America will convene for its fourth meeting on September 17 – 19, 2013. On this day, marked as "Assembly Sunday," we ask all clergy and faithful throughout the lands of which the Assembly is composed to offer prayers for safe travel, fraternal dialogue, and furtherance of the work of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Orthodox Church. The Assembly represents the hopes, aspirations and vision for the future of Orthodoxy for all Orthodox Christian faithful in North and Central America.

St. Vladimir's Expands Bishop Basil Byzantine Music Program, Offers Public Course

Oct., 2012: Rassem El Massih chants during Patriarch Ignatius' visit to St. Nicholas Cathedral, Brooklyn, NYOct., 2012: Rassem El Massih chants during Patriarch Ignatius' visit to St. Nicholas Cathedral, Brooklyn, NY[SVOTS Communications / Yonkers, NY] "More than a third of our alumni are in jurisdictions that use Byzantine music," noted The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield, chancellor/CEO at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary. "In order to serve the Church and our students preparing for service in these ecclesial settings, we are fortifying our Byzantine music course offerings and chapel music repertoire for the 2013–2014 Academic Year.

"We are particularly blessed that Mr. Rassem El Massih has joined our faculty as Lecturer in Liturgical Music," continued Fr. Chad. "Instructor El Massih of the Antiochian Archdiocese is a renowned church musician who will be teaching 'Introduction to Byzantine Chant.'"

Memory Eternal! + The Very Rev. Fr. Demetri Moamar

From the Antiochian Diocese of Los Angeles and the West Website:

Memory Eternal! The Very Reverend Father Demetri Moamar

It is with extreme sadness that we inform you that Fr. Demetri Moamar, who was attached to St. Joseph the Damascene Church in New Westminster, BC, Canada, fell asleep in the Lord on Thursday, August 22, 2013. His Eminence Archbishop Joseph has requested the parishes to remember him in the prayers for the departed for the next 40 days and to hold a special Trisagion for his eternal life.

May God receive him in His Heavenly Kingdom and may his memory be eternal. The funeral arrangements will be posted when they become available.

FOCUS Distributes Shoes and Backpacks to Schoolchildren

In August, 2013, over 600 children living in motels with their families were given backpacks filled with school supplies at the West Anaheim Youth Center in Southern California. The Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS) partnered with 30 other organizations in Orange County to spearhead the effort.

Additionally, FOCUS volunteers have continued to distribute shoes to homeless children who are enrolled in public schools in the FOCUS program Operation Lace Up. This back-to-school program brings much-needed shoes to thousands of children from homeless and working poor families in cities across America. Volunteers gather at a shoe storage location and then help organize and prepare the shoes for delivery to needy children. Contact shoes@focusna.org to get involved, or visit the FOCUS Website.

Fr. George Shalhoub Releases Book on Love and Marriage

Founding pastor of the Antiochian Orthodox Basilica of St. Mary in Livonia, MI, The Very Rev. George Shalhoub, has released a book titled The Mystery of Love and Marriage. An associate professor at Madonna University as well as a priest of many years, Fr. George draws from more than 40 years of experience in counseling, teaching and educating the community on the foundations of a healthy relationship. His book provides practical advice about healthy living in a complicated and fast paced world, and about how to live a balanced way of life.

"This book is a roadmap for anyone looking to be in a relationship,' said Fr. George Shalhoub. "The Mystery of Love and Marriage exposes the truths to communication, forgiveness and unconditional love, all the scariest and most important pieces of being in a partnership."

OCMC Short-term Missionaries Report on Summer of Ministry

In Albania, blog author Jamil (R) and teammate Andrew present Gospel message with the aid of a translator (Photo: L. Bullock)In Albania, blog author Jamil (R) and teammate Andrew present Gospel message with the aid of a translator (Photo: L. Bullock)The summer is an especially busy season for the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC), as short-term mission teams are trained and then sent out to minister in other parts of the world. In 2013, teams journeyed to Alaska, Tanzania, Kenya, Guatemala and Albania, and several of the participants shared their stories on the OCMC's Website and Facebook page.

Jamil Samara, director of Internet Ministries for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, served on the Albania Mission Team in the early summer. On Day five of his blog diary, he wrote:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

My head popped off the pillow about 4 am, even before my alarm went off! I intended on waking up early, as today was a big day, and I needed to prepare for it. Andrew Otto and I were tasked with giving a presentation today in front of 100 teenagers in Berat, a nearby city.  I'm not used to public speaking, so I like having what I'm going to say clearly written out and rehearsed. 

St. Vladimir's Seminary Announces 75th Anniversary Autumn Events

[SVOTS Communications/Yonkers, NY] "This fall, as we conclude our 75th Anniversary year, we will bring some innovative events to our campus," remarked The Very Rev. Dr. John Behr, dean of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, Yonkers, NY. "Our fall schedule is quite full, and it will hold some surprises, in honor of our Jubilee.

"Most notably," he continued, "Father John Erickson, former dean of our school and professor emeritus of history, will present our inaugural Father John Meyendorff Annual Memorial Lecture in September; and in October, we will host a college conference with the theme 'For the Life of the World,' titled after the phenomenal book by Father Alexander Schmemann.

"With these two events," he concluded, "we plan to give special honor to two former deans who had immeasurable impact upon our seminary during their tenures."