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Stories on the Church of Antioch and the Middle East

The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America is an archdiocese of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East. It traces its roots to first century Antioch (modern-day Antakya, Turkey), the city in which the disciples of Jesus Christ were first called Christians (Acts 11:26). The Patriarchate is led by His Beatitude John X from Damascus, Syria. In addition to its continuing presence in Syria and Lebanon, the Antiochian Patriarchate has archdioceses in Europe; Asia; North, Central and South America; and Australia and New Zealand.

The Church of Antioch was established by the Apostles Paul and Barnabas in 42 A.D., with St. Peter serving for the next eight years as its first prelate. The Church of Antioch is one of the five ancient Patriarchates of the Christian Church, along with Alexandria, Constantinople, Jerusalem, and Rome. Antiochians are in full communion with other Orthodox Christian jurisdictions, such as the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Orthodox Church in America, as well as many other Orthodox jurisdictions around the world.

 

Latest News

Common Statement by Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East, and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia

On January 30, 2014, His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East concluded his five-day visit to Russia, and the following Common Statement with His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia was released (translation provided by the Russian Orthodox Church):

At the invitation of Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East John X paid his official visit to the Russian Orthodox Church from January 25 to 30, 2014. The Patriarchate of Antioch is going now through difficult times because of the violence committed in its homeland and its tragic consequences of the political crisis for its people. This visit has given the two sister Churches the opportunity to discuss several disturbing issues affecting their witness and ministry. The two Churches feel the need to state the following:

1. The important mission of a Church in a society is to bear witness in word and deed to God's love for each person, regardless of his or her religious belief or national identity. Following the words of Christ "Blessed are peacemakers, for they will be called children of God (Mt. 5:9), we proclaim peace and respect for the human dignity and rights. Every human being is an object of Divine Compassion; it is because of God's love that the Incarnation took place and that the Holy Spirit continues to work in our midst. This basic principle inspires the two sister Churches in their actions, service and cooperation.

His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East Visits His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia

Meetings are underway in Russia between His Beatitude Patriarch John X and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill. In addition to the general report below, a joint statement has been issued appealing for peace in Syria.

The Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church reports:

On 25 January 2014, at the Patriarchal and Synodal Residence in St Daniel's Monastery, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia met with His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East, who is currently visiting the Russian Orthodox Church.

The delegation accompanying His Beatitude Patriarch John X on his visit includes Metropolitan Basilyos of Akkar; Metropolitan Ephrem of Tripoli; Archbishop Niphon of Filippopolis, representative of the Patriarch of Antioch to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia; archimandrite Philip (Yazegi); archimandrite Parthenius (Allati); archdeacon Gerasimus (Kabbas); and a number of lay people.

Patriarch John X of Antioch and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow Issue Appeal on Syria

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.

PBS Highlights IOCC Syrian Work and Refugee Plight

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.”

Watch the program on PBS.

Help the Orphans of War in Syria

from the January 2014 edition of The Word:

Syria! The name itself inspires awe and wonder. Archaeologists have proven that Syria was the cradle of civilization, and where agriculture and trade routes appeared for the first time. Its capital – Damascus – is widely considered to be the world's oldest city. Antioch was also part of early Syria and was invaded by the Roman armies in 64 B.C., making it the third-largest city in the Roman empire. Syria continued to grow and become a major center of trade and industry in the ancient world.

After the ministry, crucifixion, death and resurrection of Christ, it was in Syria where a young man named Saul (who later took the name Paul) was converted on his way to Damascus. It was in Antioch where St. Paul set off on many of his journeys to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In Antioch, "the disciples were first called Christians" (Acts 11:26).

IOCC: Healing the Wounds of War in Syria

January 14, 2014 (Baltimore, MD)

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.

Nativity Greetings from Patriarch John X

With the mercy of God Almighty

John X

Greek-Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East

To

My brothers, pastors of the Holy Antiochian Church

And my sons and daughters wherever they are in the parts of this Apostolic See

 

“As Thou art God of peace and Father of mercies, Thou hast sent unto us Thine Angel of great counsel, granting us peace. So are we guided towards the light of the knowledge of God, and watching by night we glorify Thee, O Lover of mankind”

With these words, beloved, the hymnographer described the great event of Nativity. With these words, Kosmas the Melodist, son of this east, surpassed ages and times to tell about what he might chant and ask concerning the Nativity of the Lord Christ, messenger of love and spring of peace.

An Encounter with Metropolitan Philip Broadcasting on Noursat Sunday, December 22

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.

Learn more about Noursat and Tele Lumiere. 

Learn more about His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America.

Syrian Refugee Families Struggle Against Winter Freeze

Listen to OCN's firsthand account of the Syrian humanitarian crisis

Syrian refugee in Lebanon (photo: Thomas Lohnes/DKH)Syrian refugee in Lebanon (photo: Thomas Lohnes/DKH)December 16, 2013
Baltimore, Maryland (IOCC)

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

 

OCN Offers Firsthand Account of Syrian Crisis

December 12, 2013

The Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) has aired an interview with Roy Azar, project coordinator for the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), on OCN Now Radio. As Syria's civil war now enters into its third year, it is the families still living in the country who suffer the most and the IOCC is one of the few humanitarian organizations still in Syria providing desperately needed relief to people affected by the conflict. The organization has been working inside Syria since it began responding in 2012 to the humanitarian needs, and OCN was able to supply this firsthand account from Mr. Azar, who has been working on the front lines of this crisis.