Missions and Evangelism
The Department of Missions and Evangelism was established in 1988 to "Make America Orthodox," in the words of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip. To fulfill that dream, the department endeavors to: 1) build new missions in North American cities of over 100,000 population which have no Orthodox Church of any jurisdiction; 2) respond to invitations of lay groups of Orthodox Christians who desire an English-speaking parish; 3) cultivate relationships with independent (generally Protestant) communities which desire to become Orthodox; 4) work with non-Orthodox pastors who desire to become Orthodox; 5) cooperate with College Ministry to develop mission parishes adjacent to major college campuses with no English-speaking Orthodox Church nearby; and 6) train and encourage Antiochian Orthodox priests and lay leaders to promote Orthodox Christian evangelism in their communities and begin new missions in nearby localities.
Since Metropolitan Philip founded this department 108 missions (excluding Western Rite parishes) have been established by the Antiochian Archdiocese. Of these, fifty-five have grown to full parishes. At present the department is developing missions in seven cities across the United States and Canada, and is exploring possibilities in several more.
“The saints are like a group of trees,” according to Desert Father Abba John the Dwarf, “each bearing different fruit, but watered from the same source; the practices of one saint differ from those of another, but it is the same Spirit that works in all of them.”
What is the parish’s responsibility to the new member? Few would believe that the parish’s responsibility to the new member is to welcome the new seed into the soil, tend to it until moistened with the water of baptism and oil of chrismation, then abandon its growth as the storm that is “the world, the flesh, and the devil” pounds it into oblivion. Few would want to be that seed.
In 1987 our beloved Metropolitan Philip established the Department of Missions and Evangelism, with the commission to bring America home to the Faith of Peter and Paul. This commission and calling, given not only to the leaders of the Evangelical Orthodox Church but to every Orthodox Christian living in North America, rings even truer today, and more urgently.
Without the necessary funds, however, such commissions often go unfulfilled. The Order of St. Ignatius has helped to fund this mission for over 25 years. Under the chairmanship of Fr. Peter E. Gillquist of blessed memory, and the spiritual advice of Bishop Antoun, the Department of Missions and Evangelism has been instrumental in raising up and receiving over a hundred church communities into our beloved Archdiocese. We cannot say that these churches were started only by the clergy, for the laity, moved to serve through the Order of St. Ignatius, provided the necessary funds for these efforts to bear fruit.
The Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch is accepting applications for reimbursement from mission priests for expenses incurred in travel to Parish Life Conferences, the Archdiocese Convention or the Bi-Annual Clergy Symposium. Please note that reimbursement of these expenses is for first pastors of small parishes and missions only, and that relevant receipts must be saved for six months. All requests must be submitted to Sameh Khouzam and received at the Archdiocese Headquarters no later than August 31.