Samer Laham, Director of the Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development for the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, has released an extensive report on aid and relief provided by the Church during the crisis in Syria. The report states:
Fifteen months have passed under the Syrian crisis, while the international community still attempts to finalize a peaceful solution to safeguard the stability and sovereignty of the country and of the people of Syria. In the meantime, directly affected people and internally displaced Syrians are still living in uncertain conditions, and are still depending on aid provided by the government through the Syrian Red Crescent, and aid from many local charities and local NGOs. ...
In witnessing the above challenges, The Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development (DERD) at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East has responded immediately to the emerging needs of the Syrian unrests. DERD has mobilized its human and financial resources to assess the needs and classify the urgent needs in order to proceed with its humanitarian aid programs. An appeal was launched to all Orthodox Antiochian Archdioceses and to all partners under the blessing of the Primate of the Antiochian See, HB Patriarch Ignatius IV, to request immediate support in order to enact national and church responsibilities towards the affected people.
Antiochian Village entered the busy summer season by hosting several concurrent leadership meetings over the weekend of June 8-10. The Holy Synod of Bishops, the Archdiocese Board of Trustees, the Antiochian Village Council, and the Order of St. Ignatius' Governing Council all held their annual meetings, combining critical planning and discussion meetings with worship and fellowship. (View a gallery of Archdiocese photographer Judy Braun's photos.)
In the meantime, Village staff prepared for the arrival of the Session One campers on June 17, while simultaneously cleaning up in the wake of the tornado which struck the property on June 1st at 5:20 p.m. Noted the Village Facebook page, "The clean up process is progressing well. With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, and the full support of the Archdiocese Board of Trustees, we have called in additional tree service companies to make certain that we can open camp on time.
Parish Life Conference (PLC) season continues as the parishioners of St. Philip Antiochian Orthodox Church prepare for the Diocese of Miami and the Southeast's PLC, presided over by His Grace Bishop Antoun. The beautiful Ocean Sky Hotel and Resort in Ft. Lauderdale is the site of the event, which will kick off on June 13 and run through the weekend. A packed, family-friendly schedule includes childcare and teen meetings, a Marriage and Family Workshop with Khouria Maggie Hock, the daily cycle of services, the Creative Festival and Bible Bowl events, and much more.
In the meantime, the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America concluded their successful PLC, themed "Cowboys and Cassocks." The busy four day weekend was hosted by the St. Joseph Orthodox Church of Houston; a highlight for attendees was the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of His Grace Bishop Basil's consecration to the episcopacy.
In the presence of more than 350 prominent Orthodox Christian faithful and friends, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) celebrated two decades of delivering humanitarian assistance, during their spring Anniversary Gala in Washington D.C.
The May Gala brought together IOCC supporters and volunteers who have helped shaped the organization into a global humanitarian arm of the Orthodox Christian Church. To kick off the day's events, an afternoon Congressional reception at the US Capitol included House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, Rep. Shelley Berkley of Nevada, Rep. Gus Bilirakis of Florida, Rep. Andrew Harris of Maryland, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland, and Rep. Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts.
The Department of Youth and Parish Ministry and the Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth (OCCHY) has announced the launch of their new website, www.HealthyYouth.com.
Additionally, Chairman Fr. Joseph Purpura of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministry announced the start of the 2012-2013 Core Measures Survey, which has received the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip.
Noted Fr. Joseph, "The survey of our Orthodox Youth seeks to better understand the issues of alcohol and other drugs affecting our Orthodox Youth Population, so we may better serve and equip our young people and the adults who work alongside them. The survey was developed in light of guidelines from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Similar surveys are administered to our children through the public school systems."
The June 2012 issue contains the following articles:
Back to Basics: Bishop John Addresses St. Tikhon's Class of 2012, pg. 4
Theophany: Personal Nurture, The Foundation for Learning, pg. 7
by Jen Nahas
An Orthodox Perspective on Tolerance, pg. 8
by Daniel Manzuk
Evangelism 2.0, pg. 12
Works of the Order in Action: Message from the North American Chairman, pg. 16
by Mary Winstanley O'Conor
Rassem El Massih: A Voice of the Faithful, pg. 25
by Linda M. Thomas
The Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) has launched a series of initiatives aimed at bringing the mind of the Church to bear on today's issues, while reaching out to both faithful Orthodox Christians as well as religious seekers.
Notes Fr. Chris Metropulos, OCN's Executive Director, "We are focusing on five 'E' words over the summer: we want to 'envision' the Church to use media to reach and evangelize; we want to 'enlighten' people as we center our 'Come Receive the Light' flagship program on monthly themes such as family and marriage; we want to 'engage' people with our increasingly popular Sounding blog; we want to 'enliven' the parishes by helping them create their own radio station online; and finally, we want to 'entrust' OCN to take action for the good of the Church."
A video staff of five has been producing film clips that compliment OCN's radio themes. Each time the monthly subject is rolled out for "Come Receive the Light," a video short accompanies the theme (view the Parenting video here).
On June 6-9, the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America will kick off the Antiochian Archdiocese's Parish Life Conference season, which is themed "The Bible fills us with eternal joy." The Houston gathering is sponsored by St. Joseph Orthodox Church. Alexei D. Krindatch, Research Coordinator for the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, will be the keynote speaker, and attendees will enjoy southern hospitality at events such as the Saturday evening dinner, "Cowboys and Cassocks."
Also in June, the Diocese of Worcester and New England will hold their Parish Life Conference on June 21-24. Hosted by St. George Church in Norwood, MA, participants will stay at the Cliff House in Ogunquit, Maine, on the Atlantic Coast. This will be Bishop John Abdalah's first conference as presiding bishop, and the coastal atmosphere will be enhanced by events such as the Maine Clambake.
Three more dioceses will gather in June: Miami and the Southeast; Toledo and the Midwest; and Ottawa, Eastern Canada and Upstate New York. Finally, the Los Angeles and Eagle River, and Charleston and New York, conferences will be held over the long holiday weekend of July 4-8. Visit the Conventions and Conference Planning page, or the Antiochian Events website, for registration and information.
Dr. Bradley Nassif is a scholar and author known especially for his ecumenical involvement and active role in Orthodox evangelism. Raised within the Orthodox Church as a Lebanese-American, Dr. Nassif is currently Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at North Park University in Chicago. He has served as a teacher for the Antiochian House of Studies and is a member of Holy Transfiguration Antiochian Orthodox Church in Warrenville, Illinois.
This spring, Dr. Nassif released two new books with broad appeal to both Orthodox and Christians from other traditions. Antiochian.org asked him about these titles and how they came about.
1. You have just released two new books with Zondervan. Tell us the back story for each one--what were your objectives in becoming involved in each project?
Bringing Jesus to the Desert is a book about the desert fathers and mothers of Egypt, Palestine and Syria from the 3rd to 6th centuries. Dr. Gary Burge from Wheaton College invited me to write this book as part of a series he's editing titled "Ancient Context, Ancient Faith." Each book, including mine, can stand on its own. But together, they focus on the theme of the desert as it appears in the Bible and early Christian literature.
The Orthodox Christian Fellowship's (OCF) Real Break program provides an alternative spring break for Orthodox college students across North America. This year, more than 50 students from 36 universities participated in the six service projects around the world in locations such as Constantinople, Mexico, Guatemala, Romania and Texas. This following OCF report summarizes the impact of Real Break, 2012.
As the week was coming to an end and all sat in the dining hall eating the typical meal of beans and tortillas, University of Illinois freshman, Anthony Jonas, notices Brayan with a sad face and not touching his food. Jesus Brayan is one of the 31 young boys living at the St. Innocent Orphanage in Rosarito, Mexico. Anthony says to him,
“¿Qué paso Brayan?” (What’s wrong Brayan?)
The Antiochian House of Studies School of Orthodox Theology, home of the St. Stephen's Program, has launched a new website section. The project centered on the work of two House of Studies graduate students, Keith Buhler and Emmanuel Gergis, who worked with the staff of the House of Studies and the Dept. of Internet Ministry to update the web presence of this special Archdiocese ministry.
The new House of Studies section offers an introduction to the distance-learning school, a list of its academic programs, information for prospective and current students, and links for faculty, news and contact information. With affordable tuition and flexible scheduling, the House of Studies offers students, parents, or full-time professionals the ability to pursue an Orthodox theological education.
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and South America has designated May 20 as Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday. Antiochian Archdiocese member Kory Warr is Chairman of the Board for the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM). He explains: "The sixth Sunday of Pascha was selected as Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday because the prescribed epistle reading (Acts 16:16-34) describes the experience of Sts. Paul and Silas in a Philippian jail. This story is a clear reminder of the truth that the light of Christ shines in even the darkest of places, pouring forth healing and salvation. All of us who participate in the work of OCPM have, like Paul and Silas, encountered the transforming grace and power of God in places where despair and hopelessness seemed to have erected impregnable strongholds.
The May 2012 issue contains the following articles:
Mary, Our Cause of Rejoicing, pg. 4
by His Grace Bishop Basil
Do We Really Believe in the Resurrection?, pg. 8
by Fr. Michael Shanbour
A Message from Metropolitan Philip on Events in Syria, pg. 11
Focus on Protecting the Christians in Syria and Lebanon, pg. 13
Heal Always, pg. 21
by Fr. Antony Hughes
Works of the Order in Action: "Give Me a Boost", pg. 20
by Fr. Michael Nasser
"Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!"
As Great Lent came to a close in 2012, somber Holy Week services commenced and then gave way to joyful Paschal celebrations, as Antiochian Orthodox Christians around the Archdiocese marked the holiest season of the Church year. In fledgling small town mission parishes and established communities in the heart of big cities, SOYO teens kept vigil on Holy Friday, chanters and clergy offered daily services even as their voices grew tired, the members of Antiochian Women chapters covered parish interiors with fragrant flowers, and the faithful contributed in ways large and small in order to join in the joy of the resurrection. If your parish isn't represented in our photo gallery yet, send us your photos and we can add your church to the gallery.
Across the United States and Canada, mission team participants with the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) are gearing up for a summer of activity and ministry. Fourteen teams, each with a different purpose, will serve in ten different countries during the second half of 2012.
Roberta Sardell, a member of St. Stephen Antiochian Orthodox Church in Campbell, California, has participated in three mission trips. "In 2008 I was in Alaska, chiefly in an isolated village called Tatitlak on Prince William Sound, snowed in, in October," she explains. "In September of 2009 I helped lead retreats in Romania, touring monasteries and the painted churches of Bucovina. July of 2011 found me in the heat of Lodwar, northeastern Kenya. In each case I was blessed with talented Christian team mates; I was blessed meeting Orthodox brothers and sisters in other countries. I went as a teacher, a catechist, but I was educated in different cultures, different lifestyles, and how the Holy Spirit convicts people around the world."
The Feast of the Life-giving Spring which is kept on the Friday of Bright Week has its origins in the 5th century. It is the feast that commemorates the consecration of the Church of the Life-giving Spring outside of Constantinople.
The very large and beautiful church named in honor of the Theotokos of the Life-giving Spring was built about the middle of the fifth century by the Emperor Leo the Great (457-474 AD), outside of Constantinople. Emperor Leo was a pious man (he is commemorated on January 20th) and before he became Emperor, he had encountered a blind man, who being tormented with thirst asked him to help him find water. Leo felt compassion for him and went in search of a source of water, but found none. As he was about to cease his search, he heard a voice telling him there was water nearby. He looked again, and found none. Then he heard the voice again, this time calling him "Emperor" and telling him that he would find muddy water in the densely wooded place nearby; he was to take some water and anoint the blind man's eyes with it. When he had done this, the blind man received his sight.
After Leo became Emperor, as the Most Holy Theotokos had prophesied, he raised up a church temple over the spring, whose waters worked many healings, as well as resurrections from the dead, through the intercessions of the Theotokos. From this, it came to be called the "Life-giving Spring."
Ancient Faith Today is what Ancient Faith Radio and Orthodox Internet radio have been missing -- a live inter-active conversation program. Now that void has been filled! Ancient Faith Today streams live, with call-ins from around the world, twice a month on Sunday nights at 5:00pm Pacific/7:00pm Central/8:00pm Eastern on Ancient Faith Radio Talk.
Topics cover all of life through the lens of Scripture and the teaching and canonical tradition of the Holy Orthodox Church.
Fr. Alexander Atty is the Dean and Chief Operating Officer of St. Tikhon's Seminary (Orthodox Church in America). Prior to this assignment, Father served for over 30 years as an Antiochian parish priest, most recently as pastor of the large and thriving Louisville, Kentucky parish, St. Michael Orthodox Church. When the OCA's Holy Synod of Bishops approved Fr. Alexander's appointment as St. Tikhon's Dean in 2010, they also permitted him to remain attached to the Antiochian Archdiocese.
During Lent, Father took a break from his busy travel schedule to answer a few questions for the editors of antiochian.org.
1. Fr. Alexander, these last few years have presented you with daunting health challenges. How are you doing these days?
It depends on who you ask. For my own peace of mind I’ve limited myself to only the opinions of my doctors. My most recent scan indicated remarkable improvement. The doctors were pleased but determined to keep at this thing until they were satisfied that they had this thing beat. I have some of the best doctors in country working on this but that’s only half the job. Many, many people have my situation in mind when they sit down at home to do their prayers or when they are commemorating the names of the sick before the Holy Chalice. I believe that it is because of their prayers and faithfulness that I am showing signs of improvement.
April 5, 2012
Beloved faithful of our Archdiocese,
Two days ago we received a very important message from the head of our Antiochian Patriarchate throughout the world, our father in Christ, His Beatitude, Ignatius, IV, Patriarch of Antioch and of all the East. Due to the importance of His Beatitude's message our ofﬁce has translated it from Arabic into English. We are sending it to you to be read from the pulpit and printed in your church bulletin.
Wishing you a most blessed Holy Week and a glorious Pascha.
March 14, 2012, Damascus
To all our Antiochian children in the Archdioceses overseas:
We greet you first as we begin the Holy and Great Lent, asking God to help lead us in our journey and in our spiritual struggle to deserve the participation in His saving suffering and rejoice in His triumphant resurrection crying, “Christ is risen, Truly He is risen."
Second, while we write to you, we feel overwhelmed with pain due to the tragic events which are happening in Syria.
In the Lenten Readings section, Patristic and contemporary writers explore the meaning of Lazarus Saturday, Palm Sunday, and Holy Week.
In the Department of Sacred Music's Library, a wide range of choral selections for Holy Week are available for church musicians.
Teachers and youth leaders can find useful tools for ministry on the Department of Christian Education's Summary of Lenten Offerings page. Additionally, information and promotional materials about the SOYO's Great Friday Vigil for teens, are posted here.
Finally, Feastoffeasts.org, a joint project of the Antiochian Archdiocese and the Orthodox Church in America, offers articles, a photo gallery, video and audio features, and links to Pascha gifts and music--all centered on the theme of the Orthodox Christian celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.