The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America announced on August 15 that the Assembly will hold its annual meeting September 17-19, 2013 at the Chicago Marriott in Schaumburg, Illinois. This is the fourth Annual Meeting of the Assembly, which is comprised of all 65 active Orthodox hierarchs serving the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
The agenda, available here, includes discussion of the Assembly’s vision, proposals for canonical restructuring, and an Assembly-sponsored national youth conference. The Assembly requests the prayers of all clergy, monastics, and laity.
In related news, the Executive Committee of the Assembly met at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan headquarters in New York on Tuesday, August 13.
The following resolutions were approved without opposition by the 2013 General Assembly of the Antiochian Archdiocese, convened in Houston.
On Tuesday, July 30, 2013, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip presented Dr. George J. Farha with the Antiochian Heritage Foundation’s 2013 “Man of the Year” award.
Born in Merj-Auon, Lebanon, Dr. Farha immigrated to the United States to pursue his baccalaureate degree at West Virginia University, and his doctorate of medicine degree at Tulane University Medical School. After graduating medical school, Dr. Farha came to Wichita where he met his wife Brenda. Since beginning practice in Wichita, he has always brought Christ into his practice by taking care of the patient first and treating all patients with the best care possible.
A photo gallery of the 51st Antiochian Archdiocese Convention, hosted by Fr. James Shadid and the parish of St. George Orthodox Christian Church in Houston, TX, is available on Antiochian.org. In addition to the biannual General Assembly meetings, liturgical celebrations, exhibits, youth activities, and department meetings were held at Houston's largest hotel, the Americas Hilton.
Special events emphasized the uniquely Southern character of this year's gathering. Families enjoyed a Country Western Dinner and Dance on Thursday evening. On Friday night convention goers attended the Mardi Gras Masquerade Dinner/Dance and the Grand Banquet and Hafli on Saturday night. In the week's culmination, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip presided over the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday, with all eight Auxiliary Bishops of the Antiochian Archdiocese assisting.
See the photos here. Our thanks to the dedicated Houston Convention organizers for providing this photography.
Your Eminences, Your Graces, Reverend Clergy, Esteemed Members of the Board of Trustees, Generous Members of the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Energetic Members of the Antiochian Women of North America, Members of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine, Beloved members of SOYO, and members of our Parish Councils throughout North America and all faithful of our God protected Archdiocese.
Before I address the theme of our convention, first, I would like to convey to you some very good news about our Archdiocese. We have completed the purchase of property and buildings in York County, Pennsylvania for the establishment of the Convent of St. Thekla Monastic Community at a price of $885,845. The property is located in Glenville, Pennsylvania and consists of 51 acres of land which includes a four bedroom “move in ready” house, a two story barn, and a three car garage with an attached workshop. The property also has a pond, and includes 30 acres of farmland and 7 acres of woodland. Our original plan was to build this convent at the Antiochian Village. However, it became clear that the cost of building at the Antiochian Village would have been $4,091,907. This is a total saving of $3,206,062. The purchase was funded by money saved in the Archdiocese from an endowment fund by the late Archimandrite John Matthieson, money which has been raised by the Antiochian Women, and generous donations from individual members of the Archdiocese Board of Trustees.
On Thursday, July 25, the General Assembly was convened by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip at the 51st Antiochian Archdiocese Convention being hosted by St. George Church in Houston, Texas. The Assembly was graced by the welcome presence of His Eminence Metropolitan Paul of Australia, and His Eminence Metropolitan Silouan of Argentina. The meeting opened at 10:30, and it was announced that a quorum of delegates was present. Much productive business was accomplished, and many reports and videos were presented.
(See below for updates from the conclusion of the Assembly.)
The city of Houston, and Fr. James Shadid and the parish of St. George Orthodox Christian Church, are hosting the Antiochian Archdiocese Convention this week at the Hilton Americas hotel. The largest legislative body of the Archdiocese, the General Assembly meets in convention biennially. In addition to the business meetings, liturgical celebrations, exhibits, youth activities, and department meetings are central to each convention as well.
There will also be special events that emphasize the uniquely Southern character of this year's gathering. Families will enjoy the Country Western Dinner and Dance on Thursday evening, while on Friday evening convention goers can attend the Mardi Gras Masquerade Dinner/Dance; visits to several of Houston's tourist venues are planned. The culmination of the week is the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday with Metropolitan Philip and all eight Auxiliary Bishops of the Antiochian Archdiocese presiding.
Chesterton, IN (July 24, 2013) — Conciliar Press announces a name change to Ancient Faith Publishing, in an effort to foster continued growth and forward momentum. This name change will not affect the operations or customer relationships in any way; it is simply a change in identity to better reflect our mission.
Conciliar Press was founded over 30 years ago as a ministry of the Evangelical Orthodox Church. When the EOC was received into the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church by Metropolitan Philip Saliba, Conciliar Press became a department of the Antiochian Archdiocese. It continued and gradually expanded its work of publishing and providing a variety of quality Orthodox resources.
In the second weekend of November 2013, Antiochian Village will host the Annual Clergy Wives Weekend which is held in memory of Kh. Joanne Abdalah. Explains organizer Kh. Stefanie Yazge, "As always, the retreat schedule reflects Kh. Joanne's holy and holistic approach to life – we need to pray; we need to play. We need to enjoy the fellowship for this short time without parish responsibilities, family responsibilities or other cares of this world. We simply need a little time to breathe. The weekend has always been a tremendous success!"
This year's speakers include Bishop John of the Diocese of Worcester and New England, speaking on "Balancing My Life, Family Life and Parish Life," and Kh. Laila Ellias and her father Dr. John Dalack, speaking about "The Holy Family: Are We There Yet?"
The Russian Orthodox Church's Department for External Relations reported today that with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the Synodal Department for Church Charity and Social Service is continuing to coordinate a fund-raising campaign to help those affected by the armed conflict in Syria. Noted the Department's Website, "Among those transferring money are dioceses, monasteries, churches and individuals."
"Surely, we have received such a good response thanks to the appeal of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill which was very convincing,” explained The Rev. Vladimir Vigiliansky, rector of the Moscow Church of St. Tatiana. On June 25, 2013, His Holiness addressed the faithful in a letter, in which he stated:
Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us in His Parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:29-37) who we should regard as our neighbor: the one who needs help, even if he or she has another views, confesses another faith or lives in another place.
"Scripture Through the Lens of the Holy Land" is an exhibit is available for rental from the Antiochian Archdiocese Department of Christian Education (see below for details). The exhibit is dedicated to His Eminence Metropolitan Philip for his continuing support of Orthodox Christian Education, and to all in the Archdiocese whose roots in the Middle East have given the Antiochian Department of Christian Education the particular privilege of presenting the Holy Land in word and image. Participants at the 2011 Orthodox Institute, "Scripture Through the Lens of the Holy Land" were the first to view the exhibit prepared especially for that event.
Come, ye faithful, let us honor the martyr of Christ, a Priest of the Church of Antioch who by the word of the Word and by his blood and the blood of his companions baptized the land of Damascus, its Church and its people. Being immersed in the light of the Gospel from his youth, he worked and taught and defended the Church of Christ and her flock. O holy Joseph of Damascus, be for us an example, defending us and interceding for us fervently before the Savior.
Troparion of St. Joseph, Tone 5
On the tenth of this month we commemorate the Holy Hieromartyr Yousef ibn Jirjis Mousa ibn Mouhana al-Haddad and his Companions. A married man, St. Joseph of Damascus, as he is popularly known, was at first a weaver and then was ordained to the holy priesthood at the age of twenty-four in 1817, and assigned Great Economos of the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos (al-Mariamiyeh) in the heart of the Old City of Damascus.
On June 29, 2013, the Feast Day of Saints Peter and Paul, the patron saints of the Holy See of Antioch, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip traveled to Glenville, Pennsylvania in York County to bless the property and house which will be the home of the nuns of the Convent of St. Thekla in America.
His Eminence was accompanied by His Grace Bishop Antoun, and several clergy from the area, including Fr. Peter Pier, the host pastor from St. John Chrysostom Antiochian Orthodox Church in York, Pennsylvania.
Approximately 50 people attended the blessing ceremony, many of whom were first time visitors to the convent property. The blessing was followed by a light lunch at the convent, and a dinner in the evening with the members of the Parish Council of St. John Chrysostom Church in York, Pennsylvania.
On Sunday, His Eminence presided at his first Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at St. John Chrysostom Church in their newly constructed church building.
"For I was hungry, and ye gave me food: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: I was naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me." Matthew 25:35-36
The faithful of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Allentown, PA have organized in an effort to identify and locate newcomers who are seeking refuge in the United States, reports the Very Rev. Anthony Sabbagh. "The largest Syrian community in the United States is here in the Allentown area," explains Fr. Anthony. "People in Syria are contacting their relatives to come to the United States in order to escape persecution and poverty; their homes are demolished, their jobs are gone. Their families here can apply for them to come since our government has opened the doors for Syrians, who are now coming to Allentown in numbers."
The Holy Antiochian Synod assembled between the 17th and 20th of June 2013 in the first ordinary session presided over by His Beatitude John X and attended by Their Eminences the Metropolitans George (Mount Lebanon and its dependencies), Elia (Hama and dependencies), Elias (Saida, Tyre and dependencies), Anthony (Mexico, Venezuela and dependencies), Sergios (Chile), Damaskinos (Brazil and dependencies), Saba (Hauran and Arabia), Boulos (Australia), George (Homs and dependencies), Silouan (Argentina), Basilios (Arkadias and dependencies), Efrem (Tripoli, Koura and dependencies).
Apologies for the absence were received from their Eminences Spiridon (Zahle and dependencies), Philip (New York and North America), Constantine (Bagdad, Kuwait and dependencies), Youhanna (Lattakia and dependencies), Elias (Beirut and dependencies) and Metroplitan Paul (Aleppo, Alexandretta and dependencies, who though absent on account of his captivity, attended in spirit through the prayers of the fathers of the Synod and their supplications.
Since the so-called Arab Spring began in Libya in 2011, we have seen the devastation and destruction of that Arab country by Libyan and NATO forces. This Arab Spring has since spread to Tunisia and Egypt, the most populated Arab country. This fire has burned relentlessly in Gaza and all of Palestine since 1948. It is spreading into Jordan, Bahrain, and Iraq and has caused the most devastation in Syria, where many of us have ancestral roots. Unfortunately, the American and European news outlets are not reporting such stories to the world, neither through the written word nor graphic photographs like the ones you see in this sad issue of The WORD magazine. The WORD has been able to obtain these pictures and information from reliable sources. Syria has been most victimized and experienced the most devastation by this seemingly endless war. The WORD believes that the only country that can bring peace to this most explosive region of the world is the United States of America, because America has leverage over Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Europe.
The Antiochian Heritage Museum welcomes two new exhibits this summer! Gracing the center wall of our museum is "Sacred Illuminations," a colorful exhibit inspired by Byzantine and Slavic manuscript design and the Bulgarian heritage of the artist, Tatiana Nikolova-Houston. Inspired by the elaborate and colorful designs of Slavic and Byzantine illuminated manuscripts, as well as the folk art of her native Bulgaria, Nikolova-Houston's artwork is rich in spiritual and cultural tradition. A scholar of religious studies and library science, Tatiana earned both a Master's degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a member of St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Church in Austin, Texas, where she lives with her husband and daughter. After discovering little-known fourteenth-century manuscripts deteriorating under poor conditions in a monastery in Sophia, Bulgaria, and thanks to a generous grant from the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Tatiana was able to spend a year there, working to preserve these rare treasures.
The June 2013 issue includes the following articles:
Arab Spring or Tornado?, pg. 3
An editorial by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip
Christianity: So Much More than Moral Code, pg. 12
by Daniel M. Manzuk
On Cotton Candy Christianity, pg. 14
by Daniel M. Manzuk
Antiochian Village Tornado Relief Project, pg. 18
by Dianne O'Regan
Praying for the Departed, pg. 36
by Josiah Trenham, Ph.D.
One of the great things about watching a very good movie, and being on the edge of your seat for the whole two hours or more, is waiting for the sequel of that great movie to come out the following year, and be even better. Well, that's what we have with our Youth Music Ministry (YMM) Program. As Paul Jabara, our Sacred Music Institute (SMI) Coordinator, said to the potential YMMers this year, "Once again, and back by popular demand, the Sacred Music Institute will be hosting the second Youth Music Ministry Program at the Antiochian Village, being held from July 10–July 14, 2013. We have listened to your suggestions from last year and promise that this year will be even better, with more singing, more fellowship and more chanting!"
St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York, is the mother cathedral and seat of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip. It is also the first community established by St. Raphael of Brooklyn, North America's first consecrated bishop, founder of The Word magazine, and a great evangelist and teacher who planted twenty-nine parishes before his repose in 1915.
The history of the Archdiocese and of St. Nicholas Cathedral of Brooklyn are one and the same. St. Nicholas Cathedral is the oldest continuous church in the Archdiocese and its only Mother Cathedral. Its long and illustrious history unfolded through the love, devotion and sacrifices of a venerable hierarchy, greatly respected priests and deacons, and holy people of God who have served and continue to serve.
"We invite you to explore the beauty of our historic mother cathedral through this virtual tour (see below) as well as the photos on the Google Plus page," notes Cathedral Dean The Very Rev. Thomas Zain. "The tour and photos were all created by the same professional photographers. Our building dates back to the 1850s, and we have been worshipping there since 1920. Much of the iconography is recent, having been added in the past 15 years."