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OCMC Reports on Spring Board Meeting

Troy, Michigan — From Tuesday, May 6, through Thursday, May 8, the Orthodox Christian Mission Center held its 2008 Spring Board Meeting in Troy, Michigan.  The meeting was hosted by St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, under the auspices of the Diocese of Detroit.  Along with OCMC Board members, Executive Director Fr. Martin Ritsi, Associate Director Fr. David Rucker, and Teams Department Director Andrew Lekos attended the event.

In addition to the regularly held meetings, there were several missions-related events over the course of the week.  On Tuesday evening, the OCMC Healthcare Committee sponsored a Health Outreach Event.  This event, intended to raise awareness about medical missions, drew the largest turnout yet present for this event.  Dr. Demetrios Kyriacou spoke about his recent OCMC Mission Team to Ethiopia.  This team was a joint OCMC/IOCC assessment project looking at the local Church’s work with HIV/AIDS patients.  Dr. Maria Vasilakis also spoke about her short-term Team experience.  Dr. Vasilakis was part of a healthcare Team that ministered in Kenya, offering treatment to over 1000 medical patients and 200 dental patients. Dr. Spero Kinnas, OCMC Board Member, updated participants on the work of Floyd and Ancuþa Frantz in Romania. 

A highlight of Wednesday’s proceedings was the Missions Banquet held at St. Nicholas Church.  The banquet was opened in prayer by Fr. Stratton Dorozenski of the hosting church.  Fr. Iakovos Olechnowicz, currently presbyter at the Greek Orthodox Mission in Traverse City, MI, gave the Keynote Address.  Fr. Olechnowicz spoke about his time as a missionary in South Africa, and about the difficulties of working with a different culture, language, and worship style.  He also discussed the stresses and challenges of working through the remnants of the Apartheid.  OCMC Associate Director Fr. David Rucker offered the closing remarks.

Board member Pat Crosson, who coordinated this Board Meeting, was happy to have these missions events taking place in his home parish.  He stated that his hope was “to create greater Mission Awareness in the larger Detroit area through this event.”

The Board Meeting was opened with a Bible study/presentation by Fr. George Liacopulos titled “Person to Person—The Building Blocks of Mission & Evangelism.”  The “Building Blocks,” according to Fr. George, are Listen, Learn, and Love.  Fr. George gave wonderful examples of the use of these building blocks throughout the Gospels and Epistles. 

After this opening Bible study, Fr. Martin Ritsi, OCMC Executive Director, presented the Operational Plan update.  He spoke on the “highlights, challenges, and emerging visions” of work at OCMC this spring.  Fr. Martin challenged the Board to think about strategies for “evangelism in new regions;” he also brought up several “soul-searching questions” about the spirit and goals of OCMC.  These questions, according to Fr. Martin, are not bad questions to ask, but are “another sign of development, of growth and of positive change in the mission field.”

Following Fr. Martin’s report, Directors of the Teams and Missionary Departments gave reports.  One issue that was highlighted was the need to recruit qualified missionaries. 

An update on the progress of the building program was given.  The new Orthodox Christian Mission Center Administration and Training Center is currently scheduled to be completed in December of 2008.  The grand opening celebration, chaired by Helen Nicozisis and planned by a Board committee, is planned for May of 2009.

Also as part of the Board Meeting, President Cliff Argue led members through an exercise in organizational development designed to look at the Board’s evolution and future vision.  Treasurer Bill Birchfield introduced OCMC’s external auditor, Mr. Gregory Korn.  Mr. Korn was pleased to report that OCMC has a “clean bill of health” in accounting practices.  Mr. Putnam Renwick spoke about OCMC investments, saying that our endowment investments are “well-diversified,” and he does not recommend making changes in the investment portfolio at this time.

OCMC was pleased to welcome two new Board Members at this meeting.  Mr. Nassim Elias of Jacksonville, FL, and Dr. Frank Papatheofanis of Rancho Sante Fe, CA, are both from the Antiochian Archdiocese.  We thank Mr. Elias and Dr. Papatheofanis for their willingness to partner with us in this imperative work and look forward to seeing them at the Fall 2008 Board Meeting in November.

We thank you for continuing to pray for the ministry of OCMC and for God’s guidance upon its staff and Board of Directors, as we all work together to answer the call to Missions.