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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

Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches to Hold Common Prayer Service

Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Public Invited to Gathering on Evening of Thursday, April 21, in Haworth, N.J.

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America and the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches in America (SCOOCH) are pleased to announce that a “Common Prayer Service” will be held on the evening of Thursday, April 21, 2016, at St. Gabriel Syriac Orthodox Church (750 Sunset Avenue) in Haworth, N.J.  The service will begin at 7:00 p.m.

This service is meant to bring people together as they pray for the safety of two Syrian hierarchs held in captivity—Syriac Orthodox Archbishop John Ibrahim, and Antiochian (Greek) Orthodox Metropolitan Paul Yazigi—and for all suffering calamities in the Middle East. This gesture of solidarity between the Assembly of Bishops and SCOOCH also marks the commencement of the organizations’ shared work.

The distinguished speakers during the service will include His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Chairman of the Assembly of Bishops and Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate; His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Eastern Armenian Church of America and Chairman of SCOOCH; His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, Metropolitan of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese; and Archbishop Mor Dionysius Jean Kawak, Patriarchal Delegate of the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of the Eastern U.S.A.

The Assembly of Bishops and SCOOCH invite all residents and visitors of the Tri-State Area to join our communities in prayer on the evening of April 21st.

Media Contacts:

Armenian Diocese – Mr. Chris Zakian
chrisz@armeniandiocese.org  (212-686-0710) 

Texas Newspaper Article Features Antiochian Orthodox Christians

"They grew up in Damascus in a time before Syria was a synonym in the Western mind for chaos and religious extremism. Reem Hoff and Rouba Heckenlively grew up a half-hour's walk from each other, both in families that practiced their Syrian Orthodox Christian faith openly among Muslims. Rouba's mother and Reem's aunt were friends. By coincidence, both women met American travelers who were visiting monasteries. Both women ended up living as American citizens in a suburb of Waco."

So begins a recent Waco Tribune-Herald article featuring the extraordinary story of two families from St. Andrew Orthodox Church, an Antiochian mission in Waco. In November 2015, investigative reporter J.B. Smith began contacting Syrians in Central Texas to get their take on the provocative words of a Texas state official, who had likened Syrians entering the U.S. to "rattlesnakes" ready to strike. Smith soon found there were a number of Syrian Christians in the area, a fact which defied the simplistic and false stereotype of all Middle East immigrants as "extremists" and "radicals" – this led him to contact St. Andrew parish priest Fr. John Ballard, who put the reporter in touch with the Hoff and Heckenlively families.

Metropolitan Joseph Hosts Honorary Retirement Dinner for His Excellency Antoine Chedid

On Friday, January 8, 2016, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph hosted a dinner at the Archdiocesan Headquarters in Englewood, New Jersey in honor of His Excellency Antoine Chedid, Ambassador of Lebanon to the United States, on the occasion of his retirement. Ambassador Chedid has distinguished himself as a man of peace and positive action, and is well loved and respected by all who have come to work with him and know him.

The dinner was attended by many members of the clergy from various denominations, as well as members of the diplomatic corps. Metropolitan Joseph honored Ambassador Chedid by awarding him the Medal of the Order of St. Raphael, the highest award given by the Antiochian Archdiocese.

Read the complete address of Metropolitan Joseph
View photos on Facebook

The Complete Works of St. Raphael are Now Available in Arabic

To the Beloved Faithful of this God-Protected Archdiocese:

Greetings and Blessings in the Name of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ!

We are pleased to present and commend the tireless effort of Dr. Adnan Trabulsi in compiling and editing this monumental work of The Complete Works of St. Raphael Hawaweeny that are being published collectively for the first time in Arabic as a three volume set. By his work, Dr. Trabulsi has assured that the legacy of this great saint will not only be preserved, but will be made known to the many Arabic-speaking people both inside and outside of America who have not yet come to know St. Raphael. 

This set of three volumes is being made available for the first time in Arabic and includes the writings of this Antiochian saint that were originally published in the "WORD" magazine from 1905 to 1915.

2015 Nativity Pastoral Letter of His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East

December 20, 2015
By the mercy of God
Patriarch John X, The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East
(Read the Arabic version)

To my brother pastors of the Antiochian Holy Church, and my children throughout the Holy See                                                                   

I behold a strange, most glorious mystery: heaven—the cave, the cherubic throne—the Virgin, the manger—the place where Christ lay. The uncontained God whom we magnify in song.

In a manger of love our Jesus was born, and in a cave He chose to visit our humanity.

By His descending, the Lord experienced all our weaknesses except for the sin. He did not chose the scepters or the sofas of the rich in order to preach the salvation, but the womb of a Virgin. He put us on so that we could put Him on. He dwelt in a cave so we may become citizens of Heaven.

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph Interviewed About Syrian Crisis

During his pastoral visit to Saints Peter & Paul Orthodox Christian Church in Salt Lake City, Utah on December 12–14, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph sat down with Antiochian journalist Peter Samore to discuss the Syrian civil war and the millions of refugees it has produced. Sayidna Joseph proposed solutions for ending the bloodshed and for safely welcoming the displaced into the United States. Over the same weekend, His Eminence also ordained Fr. John Mahfouz to the holy priesthood.

In addition to serving as a consultant to the Department of Internet Ministry, Peter reports for KSL Radio, KSL Television, and the Deseret News in Salt Lake City, where his stories with His Eminence appeared this week. 

Read and view stories:
ISIS killers don't represent people of Syria, Archbishop says
Ordination of new assistant pastor is reflection of church's growth

A Call to Reject all Hateful Speech and Actions Against our Muslim Friends and Neighbors

The Hospitality of Abraham icon depicts unity, and the welcoming of strangersThe Hospitality of Abraham icon depicts unity, and the welcoming of strangersFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
Englewood, New Jersey

As Orthodox Christians, we take to heart the commandments of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, especially the commandment that He has told us is the greatest, that is “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).

We have watched with dismay as several public figures have played on the fear which they assume has swept over this country. Specifically, a recent news release from the Trump campaign has called for “a total and complete shutdown of all Muslims entering the United States”. We reject in the strongest possible terms both this specific call, and all speech and actions which would encourage hate and persecution against any group of people. We call on all leaders, in the political arena and in the faith community, to also reject this call, and to remember that such an action would bring dishonor to all of the brave men and women of all backgrounds who have given their lives to uphold the core values of freedom and dignity which we enjoy.

We have seen an alarming rise in recent days in the number of hateful and violent actions which have been perpetrated against Muslims, or those who are presumed to be Muslims. There is no doubt that such hateful rhetoric encourages those who may be inclined to violence to act out this violence. We condemn in the strongest possible terms any act of violence against any human being, and we are reminded that all human beings bear the image of God, and are to be respected as children of God. We also unconditionally condemn all acts of terror, such as the recent one in San Bernardino, California which brought pain to so many people.

Statement on the Reception of Refugees in the United States

Syrian children, from the June 2013 issue of The Word MagazineSyrian children, from the June 2013 issue of The Word MagazineStatement from the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America on the Reception of Refugees in the United States in Light of Recent Terrorist Actions around the World

Since the tragic terrorist actions in Paris, Beirut, Mali and elsewhere in the past two weeks, there have been polarized reactions to the reception of refugees, mainly of Syrian nationality, worldwide: an understandable reaction of concern on the one hand, but a sad overreaction of fear on the other. We are all concerned first and foremost for the safety of the citizens of the United States which must be continually addressed and assessed. At the same time, the humanitarian disaster caused by the war in Syria to which the U.S. government has contributed by calling for the removal of the established Syrian leadership – as it did in Egypt, Iraq and Libya – requires a moral response from the people and government of our great country. Misguided U.S. foreign policy helped create the so-called "Arab Spring" which has been a "tornado" that has destroyed Arab countries, leaving power vacuums that have fostered the soaring, vicious activity of terrorist groups including ISIS, al-Nusra, and others in the Middle East and around the world. All of this has resulted in an unprecedented number of deaths of innocent people and lack of basic services like healthcare and sanitation, healthy food and drinking water, safe and dignified housing, and so forth.

We must us not be guided by fear or bigotry, but rather let us work to heal the wounds of the injured, clothing the naked and feeding the poor as our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ has taught us (Matthew 25:35-36).

Who Is Our Peace? + A Reflection on the State of the World Now

by Fr. George Shalhoub of the Basilica of St. Mary in Livonia, Michigan
A sermon delivered Sunday, November 15, 2015, in the wake of the terror attacks in Beirut and Paris

Beloved,

In the light of the constant atrocities, murder, suicide bombings, the war ravaging the world today, I wish to share with you the following:

As we enter the Holy Advent Season, we shall also gather, as families, to celebrate Thanksgiving in the midst of a world gone mad. We need to keep our eyes open through prayer to Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, for the salvation of the world.

Statement of the Antiochian Archdiocese on the Terrorist Attacks against the People of Beirut and Paris

It is with extreme sadness that His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph and the hierarchs, clergy, and faithful of the Antiochian Archdiocese offer our prayers and condolences to the families of all of the victims of the horrific terrorist attacks that were perpetrated last week against the people of Beirut and Paris. We ask our gracious and merciful Lord to bestow healing upon the victims who were injured, repose of soul for those whose lives were taken, and some measure of comfort to the families of the victims. We pray to God that He will soften the hearts of those who inflict pain and suffering and that He will grant to the world the peace that can only come from above.

We speak out in the strongest possible terms against all forms of violence which are carried out against our fellow human beings and proclaim that we will stand in solidarity with all people of peace and good will. We are mindful that those who perpetrate these acts of violence are intent on spreading fear, but we are comforted by the words of St. Paul to Timothy, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7)