Interviews from Antiochian.org
Bill Hinkle is a founding member of Prophet Elijah Antiochian Orthodox Mission in Ellensburg, WA, a member of the Order of St. Ignatius, and a graduate of the Antiochian House of Studies. Bill's varied history also includes a stint as the Minority Whip of the Washington State House of Representatives, a career as a firefighter paramedic, service as a county commissioner, civic involvement in boards and a leadership institute, and a career in health insurance. He recently launched a bi–monthly podcast with the Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) called "Our Life in Christ and in America." Antiochian.org spoke with Bill about the many hats he wears.
1. How long have you been Orthodox and how did you discover the Church? Tell us a little about your parish.
I told my wife on our first date that I wanted to know God, live a Christian life and find the Church, but wasn't sure how to do any of that. Almost 10 years later in 1999, we met Fr. George and Pres. Dianthe Livanos on a ferry dock in Port Angeles Washington the week before Thanksgiving. He had travelled from Canonsburg, PA and we were on vacation six hours from our house. We spent 45 minutes crossing the Strait of Juan De Fuca on a ferry talking about "the historic church" as Fr. George explained it to us.
The Antiochian Archdiocese Department of Stewardship's Chair Ronald Nicola taught high school social studies and served as a vice-principal for many years. A California native, he grew up attending St. Nicholas Church in San Francisco. He and his family have been members of St. John the Evangelist Orthodox Church in Orinda, California since its founding in 1978.
Ron has been active in many ministries of the Archdiocese, from SOYO to parish council to a twenty-year period of service on the Board of Trustees. Through these experiences, he developed an interest in Christian stewardship and the Scriptural teachings that guide the faithful in their offerings of time, talents, and treasure. Recently, the Department of Stewardship added two substantial resources to the web: The Fifty-Two Week Parish Giving Campaign, and the Parish Council Guidebook. The department is also responsible for the upcoming Parish Council Symposium in November.
Antiochian.org spoke with Ron about the ministry of the Antiochian Archdiocese's Department of Stewardship.
1. What is the Department of Stewardship—when was it founded, and why?
Metropolitan Philip established the Department of Stewardship in 1975 and he appointed the late Ernest Saykaly of Montreal, Quebec, as its first chairperson.
The Chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries, V. Rev. Dr. Joseph Purpura has been creating and implementing youth training programs across the United States and Canada since the late 1980's. He has held numerous appointments over the years and is currently overseeing a number of programs, both established and new. Over the summer he coordinated SOYO Diocesan General Assemblies, elections, the Leadership Conference, Bible Bowl Festival, Oratorical Contest and Special Olympics Sports Camp. Antiochian.org asked him for an update as he looks to the Archdiocese's fall youth schedule.
1. What is the Healthy Youth Initiative? In general, can you update us on the progress of OCCHY (Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth)?
The Healthy Youth Initiative offers Orthodox Christian communities the opportunity to heighten awareness of substance abuse issues and to recognize and respect the sanctity of the human body. By developing local community networks, parish leaders are able to establish healthier living conditions for our youth. Local coalitions promote substance abuse solutions through policy change, environmental design modification and substance abuse prevention strategies.
The Order of St. Ignatius Chair Mary Winstanley-O'Connor is a lifelong member of the Antiochian Archdiocese. A Boston attorney, Mary joined the Order in the early 1990's after visiting Antiochian Village, where she was deeply moved by listening to the campers pray and sing. She assumed the role of the Governing Council Chair in 2011, following in the footsteps of Daniel Abraham. Recently Antiochian.org asked Mary to reflect on her first year of leadership.
1. Mary, can you tell us how you became involved in the Order of St. Ignatius?
I have been a life-long member of St. Mary Orthodox Church of Cambridge, Massachusetts. I am an attorney with offices in Boston and have lived in the greater Boston area throughout my life. Like many in our Archdiocese, I was a member of Teen SOYO, a member of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine, Parish Council President and a Sunday School teacher.
"Ancient Faith Today With Kevin Allen," AFR's new flagship national program, is slated to launch at the end of Bright Week on April 22, 2012.
Allen, the host of the award-winning interview podcast, "The Illumined Heart," will draw on his background in Orthodox media to discuss a wide variety of issues with knowledgeable guests, all through the lens of the Orthodox faith and tradition. "Ancient Faith Today" will stream live and allow for call-ins from around the globe, twice a month on Sunday evenings at 8 p.m., Eastern Standard Time.
Antiochian.org asked host Kevin Allen to share his hopes and plans for this new venture.
1. Kevin, tell us about your history with Orthodox internet radio.
I hosted an interview program called “The Illumined Heart” on Ancient Faith Radio from 2007 through April 2011 with a few hiatuses in between. We logged 5, 251 minutes and 49 seconds in 176 programs with Orthodox and non-Orthodox laity, clergy, monastics, theologians, writers and Episcopal leaders on a wide range of subjects with the common theme of “spirituality” and “church life." The program began as a parish media project and Ancient Faith Radio produced it on its Talk Radio line-up as a regular program as a downloadable podcast. In addition, I have been a listener of many of the other fine podcasts on AFR myself through the years.
Since October is Youth Month in the Antiochian Archdiocese, the editors at antiochian.org caught up with Fr. Anthony Yazge, who heads up the College Department for the Archdiocese, as well as the camping program at Antiochian Village. (Read this 2006 Word interview with Fr. Anthony and browse his Ask Abouna column.)
Fr. Anthony has been serving teens, college students and campers since 1981, and after thirty years he still approaches his ministry with dedication and enthusiasm.
1. How many years have you been working in youth ministries, and what kind of roles have you filled?
I basically went from my teenage years to being involved in youth ministry. As a seminarian I was involved in planning and leading teen retreats. A few years after ordination, I was appointed as the Midwest Teen SOYO Spiritual Advisor and served in that position for fourteen years before being appointed as the NAC Teen SOYO Spiritual Advisor for the last six years. As the Spiritual Advisor of Teen SOYO, I participated with our teens in many outreach projects over twenty years. In 2001 I was assigned to be priest in charge of Teen SOYO’s Special Olympics Camp and am currently still part of this ministry.
In addition to serving as a Spiritual Advisor for Teen SOYO the past twenty years, I have served the Antiochian Village for many years. I was a camp counselor in 1981 and was a session priest for thirteen years prior to my current assignment as Camp Director in 2006. I have also led a team of teens on a short term mission trip to Project Mexico.
Recently, Antiochian.org spoke with Department of Sacred Music Chair Chris Holwey about how this essential department provides support, training, and encouragement to parish musicians throughout the Antiochian Archdiocese.
1. Chris, summarize for us the ministry of the Department of Sacred Music in the Antiochian Archdiocese, and your role within the Department.
First of all, let me say thank you for offering me this opportunity to speak about the Sacred Music Department, which I believe is one of the most important departments of the Archdiocese. Officially, the department was established back in 1968 when Metropolitan Philip appointed Fr. James Meena as its first chairman. Unofficially, though, the Archdiocese began publishing music well before that, closer to the beginning of the last century. If anyone wishes to read about our history, Dr. Michael Farrow, our Vice-Chairman, has compiled it all in a wonderful article which is located in the Information and Resources section of our website. But to be more specific about the ministry of our department, I cannot say any more than is already said in the Mission Statement of our department: "The mission of the Department of Sacred Music is to provide leadership to the parishes of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, drawing from the talents of the faithful in order to serve as a resource for the publication of music, to organize workshops and seminars, to build strong ties of communication throughout the Archdiocese, to support the work of missions, and to be a positive influence in the creation of new works of liturgical music for the glory of God and the Holy Orthodox Faith."
Fr. John Oliver, the priest of St. Elizabeth Orthodox Christian Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, has released Giver of Life through Paraclete Press. The book tackles a topic not easily grasped, that of the Church's teaching on the Person of the Holy Spirit. An experienced communicator, Fr. John has authored the Conciliar Press story Touching Heaven and has been an Ancient Faith Radio podcaster since 2007. However, he says that writing Giver of Life proved to be a different experience altogether, and in an interview with the editors of antiochian.org, he explains why.
1. The Holy Spirit seems at times to be the most neglected Person within the Holy Trinity. Tell us what motivated you to write about Him in this book.
Actually, the idea for Giver of Life was not mine. Paraclete Press, the publisher, contacted me about writing a book for a series they were doing on the role of Holy Spirit in various traditions. They asked if I’d consider writing the Orthodox perspective. Since it’s such an enormous and lofty topic, with which I have very little personal experience, I didn’t agree to it at first.
But Paraclete said some things that led me to accept the project - they were looking for something introductory; they were fine with lots of direct references to the Church fathers; and they hoped for a book that was specifically devotional in nature. So, Giver of Life is not an academic book, and it’s certainly nowhere close to being any definitive text on the Holy Spirit in the Orthodox tradition. Rather, it’s a reflection on what the Orthodox believe about the Holy Spirit and how He changes our lives.
Conciliar Press has released Antiochian priest Fr. Andrew Damick's book, Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy. Birthed by the popular Ancient Faith Radio podcast with the same name, the book provides an overview of "the gamut of ancient heresies, modern Christian denominations, fringe groups, and major world religions, highlighting the main points of each faith." Fr. Andrew pastors the community of St. Paul Orthodox Church in Emmaus, Pennsylvania.
Recently we asked Fr. Andrew to reflect on his chosen topic, and to explain why he believed it was necessary to write about the differences between Orthodoxy and other faiths.
1. Fr. Andrew, what was your motivation for tackling this topic?
The impetus for putting together the original lectures which eventually led to this book was a direct question from a parishioner: How are the Orthodox different from other Christians? In doing the writing and in thinking about the topic, it became apparent to me that many of us, both inside and outside the Orthodox Church, often do not understand why doctrine matters. We often do not see why what we believe and what we do have a real, discernible effect not only on our lives here on earth, but also in the age to come.
Just over two years ago, twenty Orthodox leaders from various jurisdictions gathered at the invitation of Antiochian philanthropists Charles and Marilee Ajalat, and the Orthodox Vision Foundation. That meeting laid the foundation for the subsequent launch of FOCUS North America (Food, Occupation, Clothing, Understanding and Shelter), a coast to coast network of Orthodox Christian outreach ministries.
Since its inception, FOCUS has steadily added partner ministries ranging from homeless shelters to medical and counseling centers. On April 3, FOCUS Orange County was awarded the Community of Faith Award, an honor endorsed by the California State Assembly. By the end of 2011, the organization hopes to increase its number of directors, partner ministries, and student volunteers in the Youth Equipped to Serve (YES) program.
Executive Director Fr. Justin Mathewes studied business as an undergraduate and subsequently earned a masters degree and was ordained at St. Vladimir’s Seminary. Chrismated in an Antiochian parish, Fr. Justin currently serves at a Serbian parish near FOCUS headquarters. With the Lenten season as a backdrop, we asked Fr. Justin to reflect on his first two years at the helm.
1. Since 2009 you've working to make FOCUS a reality and not just a list of organizational goals. What is the most important thing you've learned?
The most important thing I am learning through our ministry together is that the only person we can attempt to change is ourselves. In these last two years I have kept the basic Orthodox Christian spiritual principle before me of St. Seraphim of Sarov: “Acquire the Spirit of peace and thousand around you shall be saved.”