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It’s that time of the year when children the world over are completing their “Christmas wish lists.”
With the Stewards of the Orthodox Church in America’s campaign to enlist 300 individuals to help fund and expand the work of the Church’s departments—the third and final week of the campaign begins Monday, December 9—department chairs were asked to submit their “wish lists,” indicating what could be accomplished should sufficient funding become available. [Click the “Become a Steward” link on the homepage to the right to donate on-line.]
Here’s what they wrote.
Donna Karabin, who chairs the Department of Christian Service and Humanitarian Aid, hopes that “Compassion in Action: Parish Ministry Training,” a fully developed collaborative effort between her department and Institutional Chaplaincies with a web site of 27 documents and the blessing of Metropolitan Tikhon, could be piloted. She envisions a partnership of clergy and laity that involves them in ministry at parishioners’ critical life junctures. Training would focus on providing an attentive and caring Orthodox Christian presence for those who suffer physically, emotionally, psychologically or spiritually – and to serve as a catalyst for healing and transformation.
“We need to maintain our current ministries, but we also need to expand our ministries as new needs arise,” said Donna. “A broad and generous response to the Stewards campaign would be one of the most productive ways to build up the Church.”
Donna lists two other departmental wishes—organizing more frequent parish ministries conferences, similar to the four that were held between 2004 and this year, and holding consultations with the OCA’s dioceses to share ministry ideas and programs.
The Department of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministries’ chair, Andrew Boyd, would like to see an expansion of the Saint Peter the Aleut Grant to larger, expansive, charitable outreach aimed at our own youth to assist with the cost of textbooks, clothes for job interviews, and other incidentals that pile up in the young adult years. He also hopes for offering additional support for the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America’s youth committee and the Orthodox Christian Fellowship. Social media offerings and original, on-line content would be expanded with additional funding, as would rebuilding the tradition of youth pilgrimages to Alaska, Mexico and elsewhere and developing resources to help our youth preach the Gospel in our time and place round out the department’s wish list.
“While there are those who claim that ‘the youth are the future of our Church,’ the fact is that they play a vital role in the Church’s present as well, even as they are trained to lead the OCA well into the 21st century,” said Andrew. “Investing in our youth now is an investment in their—and our—futures!”
The Department of Christian Education, chaired by Matushka Valerie Zahirsky, said that additional funding would help cover expenses for a series of regional workshops featuring guest speakers. Department members would present training workshops “in places we now cannot afford to travel to, such as Alaska and the west coast,” she added. The DCE also hopes to engage a full-time person to oversee and continually update its web site.
Archpriest Ian Pac-Urar, who oversees the Department of Continuing Education, said that “we can do some wonderful things with adequate funding.” Among them would be scholarships for clergy and missions, development of on-line clergy leadership and management training and a “healthy parishes program,” and publication of a clergy field guide—“Things We Didn’t Learn in Seminary.”
“The 16th All-American Council and the Holy Synod of Bishops set continuing education as one of the top-level goals of the 2012 Strategic Plan,” said Father Ian. “Clergy and laypersons alike have called this an idea whose time has come, and our department hopes to continue to provide additional quality courses and seminars for our priests and deacons”—something for which the current OCA budget does not provide.”
Archpriest Theodore Boback, who coordinates Orthodox Military Chaplaincies, would like to provide required and essential liturgical items and supplemental resources to priests entering active military chaplaincy. He also cites the need to provide military and VA chaplains with pamphlets, crosses, icons and other devotional publications and items for distribution to service members and veterans. Other wishes that could become a reality with increased funding include enhancing archpastoral visits to military and VA chaplains, initiating annual recruiting visitations to our seminaries and within our dioceses, funding an annual military and VA chaplaincy conference/retreat, enhancing the OCA military and VA chaplain web site/blog, and developing a DVD highlighting the OCA’s military and VA chaplaincies.
Among the wishes expressed by Prof. David Drillock, chair of the Department of Liturgical Music, are the continuation of the popular “Learning the Tones” tutorial, initiation of a program to incorporate liturgical music and hymnography into Church School curricula, and establishment of additional on-line courses for beginner choir directors.
Priest John Parker, who chairs the Department of Evangelization, would like to see the implementation of a “mission school” for priests serving in new parishes and mission communities. Another item on his department’s “wish list” would be the establishment of a sub-department dedicated to planting and growing African American and Spanish-language ministries while publishing resources and vital texts into other languages. Among the other publications he envisions would be a regular mission and evangelistically minded journal and evangelistic material “in beautiful, ‘entry-level’ sizes and quantities. He also would like to develop a “much-needed ‘Alaskan Spotlight’ to remind our wider OCA of the font of our Native Orthodoxy, help train Native Alaskans and others in how to deal with Protestant and other religious encroachment in Villages, and establish a missionary center related to Old Harbor, Kodiak, and Spruce Island.”
In response to remarks made in a press conference in Balamand, Lebanon on December 5, 2013 by His Beatitude, Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon and the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America call upon the faithful to offer prayers for the nuns and orphans abducted from the Monastery of Saint Thekla in Maaloula, Syria December 2.
“Amidst the calamities besetting Syria and the bloodshed afflicting our people and amidst the uncertainty that still surrounds the fate of our metropolitans Boulos and Youhanna in Aleppo, it is with deep pain that the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East has received news of the abduction of her daughters, nuns and orphans of the Monastery of Saint Thekla in Maaloula on December 2, 2013 and their being transported to Yabroud,” said Patriarch John. “Because our initial attempts to obtain the release our abducted daughters did not achieve the desired outcome, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East calls upon the international community and all governments to intervene and make efforts to release them safely. She likewise calls upon the conscience of all humanity and upon the spark of living conscience that the Creator, may He be exalted, sowed in the souls of all those who worship God, including the kidnappers, to release our sisters the nuns and the girls of the orphanage.
“Our appeal to the international community: Although we are grateful for all the feelings of solidarity, we no longer need denunciation, condemnations, or ‘feelings of concern’ about the assault on human dignity that is occurring, because all this is engraved in the conscience of every one of us,” Patriarch John continued. “Today, however, we need concrete actions, not words. We do not want voices of condemnation from decision-makers, whether regional or international, but rather efforts, pressure and action leading to the release of those whose only fault was their clinging to their monastery and refusing to leave it.”
The complete text of Patriarch John’s remarks appear on the web site of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America at www.antiochian.org/patriarch-john-x-speaks-abducted-nuns-maaloula-syria.
Parishes are asked to remember the abducted Metropolitans, nuns and orphans in liturgical services and personal prayer until such time as they are released.
The Orthodox Church in America’s Pension Board met at the Chancery here on Tuesday, December 3, 2013. Board members approved benefits, responded to communications, and updated investment decisions.
The Orthodox Church in America Pension Plan serves over 300 active participants and more than 125 retirees, widows, and beneficiaries. Participation in the Plan has been mandated for all clergy and is available for all full-time Church workers. Information and resources concerning the Plan are available here.
The Preconciliar Commission [PCC], charged with establishing plans for the 18th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America [AAC], held its first meeting at the Chancery here Tuesday and Wednesday, December 3-4, 2013.
The Council will be held in Atlanta, GA July 20-24, 2015.
Members of the PCC, who are appointed by the Holy Synod of Bishops, include His Grace, Bishop Mark [Episcopal Chair]; Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor; Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Treasurer and Council Supervisor; Melanie Ringa, OCA Treasurer; Archpriest Myron Manzuk, Council Manager; Peter Ilchuk, Logistics Manager; Archpriest Alexander Fecanin, Local Clergy Chair; Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky, Chair of the Department of External Affairs; Carol Deerson, Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America [FOCA[ representative; Elizabeth Mikhailevsky, Metropolitan Council; and Priest Benjamin Tucci, Youth Events Coordinator.
According to Father Eric, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, attended a number of sessions, during which he directed the PCC to emphasize the spiritual nature of the Council while ensuring that prayer receives a prominent place throughout the Council. He also encouraged a strong participation by the monasteries and the seminaries.
Bishop Mark assisted in defining the Synodal directives for the AAC, which include a youth component.
The PCC has taken up the theme recommended by the Holy Synod—“How to Expand the Mission.” This was the theme that was first proposed by Saint Tikhon of Moscow, then head of the North American Church, at the First All-American Sobor held March 5-7, 1907, in Mayfield, PA. A summary of that historic gathering may be found here.
“In line with the theme, the agenda will be based around the theme of ‘How to…’ offering hands-on training sessions on various topics of a practical nature of Church life,” Father Eric added. “These will involve many different departments and parishes offering their experience and knowledge to the Church.”
The AAC will feature a youth component open to children, teens and young adults. Educational programs, trips to various Atlanta-area sites, and service projects will be offered. The youth also will work on a project on the theme and address AAC delegates during a plenary session.
“For the first time, FOCA will hold its annual convention at the same time and place as the AAC so delegates can participate in both events,” Father Eric noted. “Plans are to include traditional FOCA events, as well as a blending with the theme with a renewed vision for FOCA and its work with and for the Church.”
The PCC is exploring the possibility of holding an afternoon series of volunteer service projects in the local community, in which delegates will be invited to participate. It is hoped that such projects will leave a lasting impact on the broader community. PCC members see these as ways by which delegates can put their faith into action while witnessing to Orthodox Christianity.
The PCC is expecting to implement electronic registration, operation and voting before and during the AAC. All reports will be available for downloading on-line well in advance of the AAC’s opening.
“In addition to the theme, the two major initiatives for the AAC will be the OCA Statute and finance reform,” said Father Eric. “A team of Metropolitan Council members, in conjunction with Melanie Ringa and all diocesan chancellors and treasurers, have been working on a new plan for financing the Church in line with directives that emerged at the 16th AAC in Seattle, WA. In addition, a Statute Commission, chaired by His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel, has been appointed by the Holy Synod. Composed of clergy, laypersons, and canon and civil lawyers, the Commission will begin its work early in 2014.
“As part of this finance and Statute reform, the PCC is planning a series of diocesan and local town hall meetings in 2015 so that all the material on the new Statutes and financing can be discussed at the local and diocesan level with plenty of time for recommendations to be brought back to the Commission,” added Father Eric. “The final drafts will be ready for review and voting at the 18th AAC in an interactive and conciliar process.”
Responsibilities of the PCC may be found here.
Monday, December 2, 2013 marks the beginning of the second week of a three-week appeal to enlist 300 Stewards of the Orthodox Church in America.
The centerpiece of the campaign, which was initiated on Monday, November 25 and runs through December 13—the Feast of Saint Herman of Alaska—is the new stewardship page which may be accessed at oca.org/become-a-steward. On-line gifts may be made on the site, as well as by clicking the appropriate button on the OCA home page.
“While income from parish assessments covers the OCA’s administrative and institutional expenses, little is left to fund the work of the Church’s departments and offices,” said Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor. “‘Stewards of the OCA’ aims to provide funding to support—and expand—the departments’ ministries, from Christian Education to Chaplaincies and Lay Ministries. And with ever-increasing requests for up-to-date resources and other materials from our dioceses, deaneries, and parishes, the Stewards hope to ‘bridge a gap’ by ensuring that sufficient funds are available.”
In his “Chancellor’s Diary” entries, Father John has been focusing on a different OCA ministry each. He also added that a list of Stewards will be posted at the close of the campaign.
See related news.
The outstanding acoustics and resplendent interior of St. Jean Baptiste Church in New York City provided a fitting venue for “Magnificat: Hymns to the Mother of God from the East and West,” a concert of sacred music presented by the Male Choir from Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, directed by Hierodeacon Herman [Majkrzak], and the Schola from Saint Joseph’s Seminary [Dunwoodie] of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, led by Dr. Jennifer Pascual.
The choirs, representing their respective church traditions, received two standing ovations from more than 400 concert-goers at the conclusion of their performance on Monday evening, November 25, 2013.
“Tonight, we are carried through a liturgical year as we hear hymns to the Mother of God from East and West,” said Saint Vladimir’s Chancellor/CEO, Archpriest Dr. Chad Hatfield in his homily. “With perfect harmony we experience the magnificent song of praise from Luke’s Gospel that is ‘Magnificat’!”
Musical selections from the Orthodox Christian tradition illustrated the Church’s feasts dedicated to the Theotokos and included a stunning original arrangement for the Great Feast of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple, composed by Hierodeacon Herman, with featured soloist Gregory Abdalah (‘08 alumnus). Saint Joseph’s Schola presented time-honored hymns to the Virgin Mary taken from ancient Latin chant and from the classical period up until modern times, such as, O Sanctissima, by Beethoven (1770–1827). The choirs joined in a few pieces to conclude the concert, ending with the sublime Ave Maria by Biebl, with Saint Vladimir’s seminarians Gregory Tucker, Brad Vien, and Ian Abodeely singing triadic portions of the piece.
Noted Father Chad, “This sort of joint venture has never been done between an Orthodox and Roman Catholic Seminary before, and it heralds the renewal of our mutually beneficial relationship with Saint Joseph’s.”
The Rector of Saint Joseph’s Seminary, Rev. Msgr. Peter Vaccari, added, “This evening reflects our vibrant, living traditions and represents the most recent phase of what has been a growing tradition of collaboration and communication in prayer, the promotion of a culture of scholarship, and our mutual recognition of the place of beauty in artistic expression.”
Other distinguished guests offering greetings at the concert’s conclusion were the Rev. John A. Kamas, S.S.S., Rector of St. Jean Baptiste Church; His Eminence, Zachariah Mar Nicholovos, Metropolitan of the Northeast American Diocese, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and a member of Saint Vladimir’s episcopal Board of Trustees; and Bishop Gerald Walsh, Vicar General of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York. Trustees, faculty, and staff from both institutions enjoyed a reception prior to the concert.
A CD of the concert may be offered in the future.
For additional information and a concert program, visit www.svots.edu/sites/default/files/magnificatprogram.pdf.
In observance of Thanksgiving, the Chancery of the Orthodox Church in America will close early on Wednesday, November 27, 2013 and will reopen on Monday, December 2.
We wish a most blessed Thanksgiving to one and all!
On Monday, November 25, 2013, a three-week campaign to enlist 300 Stewards of the Orthodox Church in America was initiated.
The centerpiece of the campaign, which runs through December 13—the Feast of Saint Herman of Alaska—is the new stewardship page which may be accessed at oca.org/become-a-steward. On-line gifts may be made on the site, as well as by clicking the appropriate button on the OCA home page at oca.org.
“For many years, the Fellowship of Orthodox Stewards brought together hundreds of individuals whose gifts helped to fund the OCA’s various departments and ministries,” said Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary. “The current initiative in part seeks to restore a sense of voluntary stewardship in providing funding for the continuation and expansion of these same departments and ministries.”
Gifts to the Stewards of the Orthodox Church in America will be earmarked to support the OCA’s Departments of Christian Education, Christian Service and Humanitarian Aid, Evangelization, Institutional and Military Chaplaincies, Liturgical Music and Translations, Pastoral Life and Ministries, and Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministries; Archives and Charities; and the Church’s efforts in the areas of Clergy Training Communications, Continuing Education, Diaconal Vocations, External affairs, and Seminaries and Theological Education.
“220 years ago, Saint Herman and the first missionaries began their journey to plant the seeds of Orthodox Christianity in Alaska and North America,” said His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon. “Today, each of us has many competing demands on our generosity, but as the heirs of Saint Herman, we are still called to plant the Orthodox Church firmly in North America. I encourage all of you to pray about this task and to consider including your name among the Stewards of the OCA.”
According to Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor, the effort to establish the Stewards of the OCA began in earnest in February 2013 with the formation of a committee which in part was tasked with developing the web page.
“In recent years, the OCA’s departments and ministries have been underfunded, while assessments only provide for the Church’s administrative needs,” said Father John. “While not everyone will want to or be able to join, and while some may have mixed feelings—especially since there are lots of other vital parish, diocesan, inter-Orthodox, charitable and humanitarian causes that need support—we hope that those who share a common vision of what the Orthodox Church can be in serving the people of North America will step forward during the next three weeks.”
On the occasion of the 80th Anniversary of the Holodomor—the man-made, Stalin-era famine in Ukraine and adjacent Cossack territories in 1932 and 1933, during which millions died of starvation—His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon sent a letter to His Beatitude, Metropolitan Volodymyr of Kyiv and All Ukraine, expressing “heartfelt solidarity” with the Ukrainian people.
“The 80th Anniversary of the man-made famine in Ukraine, called Holodomor, which took millions of lives, is a tragic and painful anniversary,” Metropolitan Tikhon wrote. “On behalf of the Orthodox Church in America I convey to Your Beatitude and to the people of Ukraine our heartfelt solidarity. The cruelty and inhumanity of Holodomor have left deep wounds in Ukrainian society and in Ukrainian memory. Yet the Ukrainian people are not alone in their commemoration of the Holodomor. All those who treasure and honor the image and likeness of God in every man and woman join you and the whole nation of Ukraine in the sorrowful commemoration of the Holodomor.
“The 20th century gives many examples of disregard for the value of every human life,” he continued. “Tragically, idolatrous ideologies of the 20th century were born in the context of European Christian civilization. Communist and Nazi ideologies sacrificed millions of lives on the altars of false gods.
“This means that anniversaries of terror and genocide are not only occasions for grief and solidarity,” Metropolitan Tikhon concluded. “They are also occasions for repentance and commitment to the renewal of Christian values and Christian faith as the foundation of society.”
The text of the letter is available in PDF format.
At their Fall 2013 meeting, members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America approved and issued a revised Policy, Standards, and Procedures on Sexual Misconduct with the goal of providing a safe and healthy environment for all of the faithful.
A new page featuring detailed information and resources is now available on the OCA web site at http://oca.org/about/sexual-misconduct. Among the accessible resources are Policies, Standards, and Procedures of the Orthodox Church in America on Sexual Misconduct, a Summary and checklist of responsibilities and procedures, and Annual Parish Compliance Report forms.
The site also offers Information on the OCA’s Office of Review of Sexual Misconduct Allegations [ORSMA], which is responsible for assisting the Holy Synod of Bishops and the Church with matters concerning allegations of sexual misconduct. The Committee is under the authority of the Holy Synod and is chaired by the Chancellor of the Church, who is the day-to-day supervisor of the Office.
Each year, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America designates the Sunday before US Thanksgiving Day as “IOCC Sunday.” This year’s commemoration falls on Sunday, November 24. [The complete text of the Assembly of Bishops’ IOCC Sunday Encyclical appears below.]
The Orthodox Church in America’s Department of Christian Service and Humanitarian Aid [CSHA] urges clergy and faithful in all parishes and dioceses to support IOCC ministries on IOCC Sunday.
“Every dollar given helps IOCC secure $6.98 in support from governments, foundations, ecumenical organizations and other funding sources,” said Donna Karabin, CSHA chair. “According to IOCC’s audited financial statements for 1992 through 2010, a full 92% of IOCC’s resources are used for humanitarian relief and development programs.”
International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is the official humanitarian aid agency of the Assembly of Bishops and is supported by generous donations from Orthodox Christians. Since its establishment in 1992, IOCC has provided emergency relief, sustainable development and self-help programs to people in need worldwide. Programs are active in more than 50 countries across Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America. All assistance is provided based on need without discrimination and benefits orphans, refugees and displaced persons, the elderly, school children, families and people with disabilities. The IOCC website has news of country programs and of the growing IOCC Emergency Response Network that has been activated several times in the US this year.
Download free IOCC Sunday resource materials and bulletin announcements at www.iocc.org/dayofsharing.
Contributions can be made on-line at www.iocc.org, by toll free call to 1-877-803-IOCC (4622), or by mail to IOCC, PO Box 17398, Baltimore, MD 21297-0429.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
November 24, 2013
To the Most Reverend Clergy, Venerable Monastics and Devout Faithful of the Holy Orthodox Churches in the Americas:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,
On this Sunday before Thanksgiving, we begin to turn our attention to the week ahead with great anticipation. Beloved families and friends will gather together from near and far. The dinner table will be laden with our favorite foods, and we will give thanks to our Heavenly Father for the blessings that make this gathering possible.
As much as the Thanksgiving holiday is a day of gratitude, it is also a day of sharing. Had it not been for the kindness of Native Americans sharing their bounty with defenseless Pilgrims seeking refuge in a foreign land, all of the struggling families may have perished. It is with this same compassion and caring for others that International Orthodox Christian Charities, or IOCC, lives its mission each day, tirelessly responding to Christ’s call to help our neighbors in need without discrimination.
IOCC, the humanitarian arm of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, has been sharing the compassion of the Orthodox faithful with those in need since 1992. Through your generous support, IOCC has delivered $438 million in humanitarian assistance to vulnerable families and communities in more than 50 countries.
From its first airlift of food and medicine to the former Soviet Union, to its current efforts as one of few humanitarian agencies working inside Syria to aid thousands of families displaced in their own war-torn country, IOCC demonstrates daily the impact of our faith in action. Through IOCC’s close work with the Church, impoverished families in Greece have access to fresh, nutritious food and medical care; struggling farmers in Kosovo are learning new ways to grow cash crops and rise out of poverty, and the children of Cameroon are thriving with access to clean, safe drinking water.
Despite the distance that may separate us from those in need, we are nevertheless bridged by Christ’s love. The willingness to share your blessings with them through IOCC carries with it the power to help transform thousands of lives around the world. And so we designate this day each year as IOCC Sunday, and embrace the message of St. John to aid those who suffer for “if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (1 John 3:16]. By sharing your abundance today, you commend the larger vision of unity that lies before us, and you open your heart to greater love for others and to the everlasting grace of our Triune God.
We ask that you remember our brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering in the face of poverty, war or natural disaster. And we pray that the abundant blessings of our merciful God be with you and your family during Thanksgiving and always.
With paternal blessing and love in Christ,
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America
Representing the Orthodox Church in America at the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Busan, Republic of Korea October 28-November 8, 2013 were His Grace, Bishop Alexander of Toledo; Dr. Paul Meyendorff of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary; and Cindy Davis of the OCA Chancery. The OCA representatives joined the other Orthodox delegations in offering an Orthodox presence and witness at the Assembly.
According to Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky, OCA Director of External Affairs, all the Orthodox Churches, with the exception of the Churches of Bulgaria and Georgia, are members of the WCC.
The Assembly theme was “God of life, lead us to justice and peace.” Some 5,000 individuals, including 2,500 Koreans, participated.
Upon their return, the OCA representatives offered reflections on their experiences, which are presented below.Bishop Alexander
The World Council of Churches is one of those organizations that often appear tiresome and unnecessary. It is an easy thing to complain about, and people often do. I felt much the same way on departing for Busan, dreading the miseries of a trans-Pacific flight in coach. And my miseries were fully realized. Yet I was surprised to discover that, in fact, there is a singular purpose to this body, that there is nothing quite like it, and that it has served the Orthodox well and importantly over the years since its foundation. This was brought home to me in the several meetings. I speak not of the meetings per se, which were long, tiresome and reminiscent of nothing so much as a fairly polite parish meeting. What I am speaking about are the meetings among the Orthodox first of all and, secondly, the dozens of encounters with good and decent Christians from all over the world. I was genuinely moved by this, especially the second, and I came to realize that this body presents us with a forum unlike any other in the world—one which, over the decades, has proven invaluable. The Orthodox, for example, would rarely meet were it not for this body which, in the shape of the central committee, brings representatives of the Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches together yearly. A lot of business gets done in these—business, for example, such as the theological discussions in the 1960s and following between Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox. These revealed that in fact the two families have vastly more in common than had been thought, especially in the centuries following their official divide over Christology. Still faced with the misery of the long trip over the Pacific, yet I left Busan gratified and illumined, having learned much. And convinced of the value of this body, I will defend it henceforth in the councils of the Orthodox Church in America and, in spite of the long flight, I actually look forward to seeing those again whom I had met.Dr. Paul Meyendorff
The official program consisted of numerous plenary sessions on the assembly theme, “God of Life, lead us to justice and peace,” business sessions (committee reports and elections), and numerous workshops. Because I am a member of the Faith and Order Commission, I participated in the workshops on F&O documents, particularly the recently issued convergence text, “The Church: Toward a Common Vision” (4 sessions), and “One Baptism: Towards Mutual Recognition” (1 session). These texts in particular are significant because of their ecclesiological implications for the Orthodox, and because Orthodox theologians have made significant contributions in their preparation. The text on “The Church” is being sent to member churches with a call for formal reactions to the text. I was informed that there are plans for an Orthodox consultation to prepare a common Orthodox response.
During the business plenaries, the Assembly approved a number of statements, focusing primarily on the situation in Syria, Egypt, and the plight of Christians in the Middle East. Other statements were more political in language and orientation. In the Orthodox meetings, a recommendation was made calling for greater theological depth to some of the statements that were issued. It was not only the Orthodox who held this view.
Obviously, one of the chief benefits of participating in the Assembly is the opportunity to meet other Christians, both Orthodox and non-Orthodox, from throughout the world. In my own case, I focused primarily on persons and issues linked with Faith and Order. I learned that the Faith and Order Commission is to be restructured in a way that will enable it to function more effectively. After the Harare assembly 14 years ago, there have only been two plenary meetings of the 120-member Faith and Order Commission, and much of the work of the commission was done by the Standing Commission (executive committee, some 24 members). In the proposed format for the coming period, the commission will consist of some 40 members nominated by the churches. Members must have solid backgrounds that will make their participation substantial, and the entire commission will meet more regularly.
The worship services followed the guidelines established by the Joint Commission on Orthodox Participation in the WCC following the Harare assembly. There were no eucharistic liturgies as part of the official program, and the prayer services were simple and sober – nothing to cause scandal.
Finally, I would say that our OCA delegation was well-received by the other Orthodox. Bishop Alexander participated in the meetings of the Orthodox delegation heads, and, pursuant to his nomination by the OCA, was duly elected to the Central Committee.
Much information on the Assembly is available on the Word Council of Churches website.
“It’s not about what is accomplished by the WCC here [in Korea], it’s about the connections you make,” said a fellow colleague upon my reflecting on the purpose of the ten day assembly of the World Council of Churches in Busan this year.
I was asked to be a delegate representing the Orthodox Church in America, along with Dr. Paul Myendorff and His Grace, Bishop Alexander. Not having had any experience with or exposure to ecumenical activities, I had no idea what to expect once I arrived at the 10th Assembly of the WCC. I had (and continue to have) some reservations about the ultimate goal of the ecumenical movement in general. Moreover, not being a theologian or an Orthodox academic scholar, I questioned what contribution I might make to the dialogue. Despite my reservations, however, I decided to accept this unique opportunity, to go with an open mind and heart, to welcome whatever it was I needed as an Orthodox Christian woman struggling in the world, and to be a witness to our faith as best I was able.
I should mention here that ten days prior to my trip to Busan, I traveled to Alaska for the Diocesan Assembly. My time there was blessed by being able to witness the profound spirituality found among the Alaskans. I was moved by their ongoing struggles which they face every day. The journey there culminated in a personal pilgrimage to Spruce Island where Saint Herman labored and reposed, and to Kodiak where his relics and metal chains rest today.
With as many as 5,000 participants, the WCC Assembly was a microcosm representing nearly every nation in the world. Peoples from almost every indigenous background and Christian confession converged on the southern tip of the Korean peninsula. As delegates, our days were filled with numerous activities including business plenaries, ecumenical conversations, workshops, and theme presentations. While there were at times moments of tension and disagreement during the business meetings, the dialogue was peaceful, open, and honest. I was impressed by the level of participation by the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches, whose delegates helped to raise awareness of the persecution of the Orthodox Christians in Egypt and the Middle East. An important statement was released on the plight of the Christians in the Middle East during this 10th Assembly of the WCC which “urges the United Nations, and the international community, especially countries that are in positions of political power, to create policies that promote and reach comprehensive peace with justice for all peoples of the region, and to expand every effort to support cessation of violence and military activities.” (The full statement can be read here.)
Walking through the Madang, a large meeting place with booths dedicated to numerous organizations working for justice and peace, I came face to face with the suffering so many people endure due to discrimination, war, marginalization, and lack of resources. I heard many personal stories of persecution and violence. I had a conversation with a woman in one of the workshops I attended who is an Orthodox Christian living in Syria. She described her day-to-day existence surrounded by sounds of explosions throughout the city where she lives. While it was initially terrifying to her, the sounds are now commonplace and almost fade into the background. When I asked her how she copes with the violence and uncertainty, she replied, “I just pray.” I also witnessed the astounding resiliency of a Korean woman who became a prisoner forced into sexual slavery during the World War II Japanese occupation of Korea. Her spirit of survival, forgiveness, and expression of solidarity with women suffering the same plight in other countries today was truly inspiring.
Amid the stark reminders of global pain and suffering, there were just as many reminders of how much good is happening in response to such injustices. It was heartening to see many Christians from all confessions putting their faith into action and calling the rest of us to action. If we are truly living our faith, first cultivating the important inner spiritual life, diakonia becomes an organic outpouring of that faith. Thinking back to my time in Alaska, I believe it was the outpouring of that faith that urged Saint Herman to venture into unknown territory, risking his own life, to “make disciples of all nations.” Saint Herman not only converted the Native Alaskan people to Christ, but he spent a lifetime caring for their physical, spiritual, and emotional needs.
Remembering the words of my friend, I realized this event really was all about making connections. I am grateful to have made vital connections with numerous young Orthodox Christian men and women living in Finland, Serbia, Poland, Slovakia, and Syria. What I personally experienced during this ecumenical gathering was unity with others through common suffering. As Orthodox Christians, we are constantly praying for the sick and the suffering throughout the world. And in our own suffering, knowing that we are not alone somehow gives us the strength to endure the trials which are sent to us. This also can inspire us to take every opportunity to help others. While it is beneficial to travel to another country where there is great need, it is certainly not a requirement to be a missionary. A kind word to our neighbor, being patient with those who are angry with us, and feeding the poor in our own backyards are simple ways to offer Christian service and witness to our faith.
The Orthodox Church in America’s 2014 Desk Calendar is now available for $15.00, which includes postage and handling.
The calendar includes ample space for daily notations and memos and a mini-directory of OCA ministries, boards, commissions, diocesan chanceries, and seminaries. Key liturgical commemorations and significant dates for the year are noted, as are the dates of Pascha through the year 2018. Highlighted in this year’s edition are quotes from the saints of North America.
All clergy—retired and active, assigned and attached—will receive complimentary copies in the coming weeks, as will all widowed clergy wives.
To order, send a $15.00 check payable to the “Orthodox Church in America” to PO Box 675, Syosset, NY 11791. Payment can also be made by credit card.
Today—November 13, 2013—marks the first anniversary of the election of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, as Primate of the Orthodox Church in America at the 17th All-American Council held at Holy Trinity Church, Parma, OH.
We wish to congratulate and thank His Beatitude for his selfless service and ministry to one and all during the past year, even as we assure him of our ongoing love and prayers today, and in the many years to come!
May God grant you many years, Master!
On Thursday, November 7, 2013 the Saint Tikhon’s Community welcomed the clergy of the Three Hierarchs Clergy Association of Hudson Valley, NY. They came to tour the seminary and monastery, and to have lunch with members of the seminary administration, faculty, and students.
In the morning they were offered a tour by the new Dean of the Seminary, Archpriest Steven Voytovich, who was pleased to introduce them to members of seminary administration, tour office and classroom areas, and share a vision for the future of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary. The group was also treated to a very informative tour of the library facilities by Librarian Sergei Arhipov.
In the afternoon they visited the monastery, with a tour of Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk Church by Father Nicodemus, and visited other areas including the Saint Tikhon’s Monastery Bookstore and the Metropolitan Museum. They were also offered an opportunity to pray before the Miracle Working Icon of Saint Anna within the private monastery chapel.
The Three Hierarchs Clergy Association and the Connecticut Clergy Association are pan-jurisdictional groups of clergy consisting of representatives from the Antiochian, Greek, OCA, Jordanian, and Romanian Churches. It was a good opportunity for seminarians to witness and take part in the open and honest cross-jurisdictional dialog between association members who encouraged them to seek up the support and friendship of their fellow clergy wherever God sends them to continue their public ministry once they graduate from seminary.
Father Christos Talleos is the president of the Three Hierarchs Clergy Association and Father Peter Karloutsos is the president of the Connecticut Clergy Association. Father Peter Karloutsos and Father Steven reflected on their common history of service with the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians of Connecticut (FORCC) in the early 1990s. “Many of the clergy who visited with us today are visiting Saint Tikhon’s Monastery and Seminary for the first time,” said Father Steven. “This is a wonderful opportunity for us to be able to share a little about our community and its rich history, and to welcome new friends who hopefully will visit us again and often.”
On Sunday, November 10, 2013, at a duly called parish assembly meeting of the Saint Nicholas Church at Ground Zero, a major step forward was taken. Under the leadership of His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios of America, and with the full support of the parish priest, the Rev. Fr. John Romas, and the Parish Council, the community unanimously approved a resolution to make the community a national shrine of the Holy Archdiocese of America.
This advance in the nature of the only House of Worship that was destroyed by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 has momentous consequences for the parish both in the near and long term.
The resolution that was unanimously passed provided for the parish, known until now as the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church at Ground Zero, to become a National Shrine of the Holy Archdiocese of America while maintaining its status as a parish of the Archdiocese. The parish would continue to function as such, but the Board of Trustees would have a national as well as local presence. The resolution also included the final agreement of the parish to exchange its land at 155 Cedar Street (including air and ground rights) for 130 Liberty Street. The new parcel, although less than fifty yards from the previous location, is more than three times larger.
The Archdiocese and the Parish had always seen that such an evolution for this historic parish of Manhattan was the logical next step. Not only is the mission and presence of Saint Nicholas at Ground Zero a national undertaking, but also likewise are the costs and responsibilities.
In his exhortation to the community, Archbishop Demetrios stressed the enormous visibility of the rebuilt Church, adding that more than 10 million visitors to the World Trade Center site per year would see and perhaps enter the new Sanctuary. He noted that as a National Shrine, Saint Nicholas would welcome all and be a House of Prayer for all people. The Archbishop said, “This church will not be just a national shrine, but also an international shrine. It will show the will of all people to rebuild and resurrect from the ashes of 9/11. This will be a church for all to light a candle for the beloved that were lost on September 11th. This church will be a Greek Orthodox National Shrine on Hallowed, Sacred Ground.”
The members of the community expressed great satisfaction and relief that the Archbishop led the process of rebuilding from the beginning, and they expressed their appreciation to His Eminence for shepherding the project. Construction for the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Shrine will begin early next year.
On Thursday and Friday, November 7 and 8, 2013, Priest Timothy Hojnicki, Rector of Holy Apostles Mission, Mechanicsburg, PA, visited Holy Archangels Mission here on behalf of Priest John Parker and the Department of Evangelization of the Orthodox Church in America.
Holy Archangels Mission will be receiving its second year Planting Grant in 2014. Father Timothy was asked to visit on behalf of the department as his parish had graduated from the Planting Grant Program in 2009. Priest Robert Miclean is Rector of the fledgling mission.
Great Vespers and Litiya for the mission’s patronal feast day—the Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and the Other Bodiless Powers—were celebrated on Thursday evening with Archpriest Gregory Safchuk, Rector of Saint Mark Church, Bethesda, MD and Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Washington, in attendance. Following a potluck supper, Father Timothy offered a presentation titled, “So you want to grow this parish?”
On Friday morning, the festal Divine Liturgy was celebrated with Priest Gregory Matthews-Greene of Holy Cross Antiochian Church, Linthicum, MD, and Deacon Michael Bishop of Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church, Baltimore, MD concelebrating. A festal lunch was served following the Divine Liturgy.
May God continue to bless the faithful of Holy Archangels Mission in faith and numbers as they strive to build this community to His glory!
Follow Holy Archangels’ growth on the mission’s web site.
During St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary’s 75th Anniversary gala celebration on November 7, 2013, seminary leaders made several noteworthy announcements, including a stellar report about accreditation renewal, the reception of significant donations earmarked for endowed scholarships and special programs, and the bestowal of rare gift from the Ukraine: the relics of the Holy and Great Prince Vladimir, patron of the Seminary. More than 430 guests gathered for the black tie dinner hosted by the Seminary’s Board of Trustees at Glen Island Harbour Club, New Rochelle, NY, and celebrated the good news during an evening designed to evoke remarkable memories and point out significant milestones for the Seminary, begun in 1938 in rented quarters in New York City and now situated on 12 beautiful wooded acres in Westchester County.
“The Evaluation Committee from the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) Commission on Accrediting, which visited our campus recently, will recommend a 10-year reaccreditation for our school and its programs, without any notation,” said The Very Rev. Dr. John Behr, dean of St. Vladimir’s. “This recommendation means that St. Vladimir’s is recognized to be working at the highest standard possible.
“The Evaluation Committee were especially commendatory about the culture of excellence, transparency, and critical-self reflection that they found at our school, and that does, indeed, mark everything we do and have done for the past seventy-five years, and will continue to do,” noted Fr. John.
The ATS team visited the campus October 21–24, interviewing students, staff, faculty, and administrators. Immediately after its visit, the team notified both Fr. John and seminary Chancellor/CEO The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield of its recommendation, which will be reviewed for final approval by ATS’s national Board of Governors in February 2014.
Throughout the evening, Master of Ceremonies Theodore Bazil, longtime former Director of St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press and now senior advisor at the Seminary, made public recent gifts, all of which are earmarked as endowments for either student scholarships or special projects. Among these were significant donations from two seminary trustees: a $750,000 donation from Trustee Protodeacon Peter Danilchick, and his wife, Tanya, to establish the “Danilchick Family Endowment for Pastoral Studies” for students enrolled in the Seminary’s new Doctor of Ministry program; and a $50,000 donation from Trustee Brian Gerich, to establish the “Dr. Albert Rossi Endowment” for student scholarships.
Additionally, $250,000 from an anonymous donor was given to establish an endowment for the newly envisioned “Institute for Sacred Arts at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary.” The Institute is an element of the Seminary’s 2020 Strategic Plan and is being proposed as a center where theological scholarship and practical artisanship will comprise student training, eventually leading to a Master of Sacred Arts degree.
Several bequests to the Seminary, all earmarked as endowments for student scholarships, also were announced, including: a $1M bequest from Lydia Meshenko, held by The Pittsburgh Foundation; a $154,000 bequest from Susan Kushner; and a $110,000 gift from the estate of longtime seminary chapel member Georgia B. Toumbakis.
“These endowments are gifts to be held in perpetuity, and they represent a high level of trust and commitment by our donors to our institution,” said Mr. Bazil. “With their reception, the Seminary is charged with the responsibility to preserve, protect, and steward these gifts.”
Father Chad also expressed deep gratitude for the many recent monetary gifts received by the Seminary on the occasion of its Diamond Jubilee, observing, “These gifts are essential for our special projects and scholarships, but I remind all of our generous supporters that we annually draw only a small percentage from these endowments to keep the principal amounts in them stable and sound, and that our operational costs, which are covered by our Annual Fund, are still underfunded.”
“Perhaps the joy of this 75th Anniversary celebration will resonate with our friends and church family to increase support for our day-to-day operations,” he quipped, “which, as I understand, have historically run on ‘shoe-strings.’ —I’d like to see those shoe strings turn into strong life lines.”
Father Chad in turn acknowledged the extraordinary gift of the relics of St. Vladimir, received through His Eminence, The Most Rev. Metropolitan Philip, archbishop of Poltava and Myrhorod, of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate, in Kyiv, saying, “When the relics were brought to St. Vladimir’s three years ago, we thought that was a once-in-a-lifetime blessing, but now the Church in Ukraine has graced us with the permanent blessing of the relics of our patron saint, along with a valuable Book of Gospels commemorating the 1025th Anniversary of the Baptism of the Rus’.”His Grace Basil, bishop of Wichita and Diocese of the Midwest, Antiochian Archdiocese, speaking about the Seminary’s contributions to the Church.V. Rev. Dr. John McGuckin, professor of Byzantine History, speaking about the Seminary’s contributions to the academic world.
Adding to the joy of the occasion were the presence of guest speakers His Grace, The Right Rev. Basil (hon. D.D.), bishop of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America; and The Very Rev. Dr. John McGuckin, The Ane Marie and Bent Emil Nielsen Professor in Late Antique and Byzantine Christian History, Union Theological Seminary, and Professor of Byzantine Christian Studies, Columbia University. Each noted the remarkable contribution that St. Vladimir’s has made to the Church and the Academy alike worldwide. His Grace Bishop Basil noted that in speaking at the 75th Anniversary, he had come home to “the place that made me all that I am,” and that the Seminary likewise has had a “sustained impact in Orthodoxy throughout the world.” Dr. McGuckin spoke specifically about “The Contribution of St. Vladimir’s Seminary to the Discipline of Theology,” reiterating the school’s academic history and noting its continued insistence, since its founding, upon highly qualified instructors to ensure excellence.
Regrettably, the President of the Seminary’s Board of Trustees, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon, primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) was unable to attend the gala due to illness from pneumonia. (The Metropolitan sent a message stating he is recovering but doctors’ orders currently required bed rest and avoiding travel.) However, he sent a congratulatory message, which was read by His Eminence the Most Rev. Nikon, archbishop of Boston, New England, and the Albanian Archdiocese of the OCA, which stated in part: “St. Vladimir’s Seminary has always provided a place where these inspired leaders, together with those who taught, counseled, and administered at their sides, could share the life-giving truths of Christ and His Church with all who came, and continue to come, to this institution for spiritual and intellectual refreshment.”
Co-chairs of the 75th Anniversary Committee were Alex Machaskee, who serves as Executive Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Seminary, and Anthony Kasmer, chair of the Audit Committee of the Board. Mr. Machaskee thanked those who planned the banquet, Co-chairs Anne Glynn Mackoul, Matushka Sharon Rubis, and Tatiana Hoff, and those who planned events throughout the entire anniversary year and read a congratulatory letter from Serbian Patriarch His Holiness Irinej, archbishop of Pec and metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci, which expressed best wishes and offered prayers for the “successful establishment of the St. Vladimir’s International House of Studies, including the St. Sava house of Studies.” The International House of Studies is also part of the Seminary’s Strategic Plan 2020, and it will include faculty and student exchanges with several Orthodox Christian seminaries around the globe. Several other congratulatory letters from church and political leaders were also read.
Other honored guests included: His Eminence, The Most Rev, Justinian, archbishop of Naro-Fominsk, administrator of the Russian Orthodox Church in the USA; His Eminence, Metropolitan Savas, archbishop of the Metropolis of Pittsburgh (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America); His Grace The Right Rev. Michael, bishop of New York and New York and New Jersey (OCA); His Grace The Right Rev. Melchisedek, bishop of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania (OCA); His Grace The Right Rev. Irénée, bishop of Québec City and administrator of the Archdiocese of Canada (OCA); His Grace The Right Rev. Nicholas, auxiliary bishop for Brooklyn, and resident assistant to His Eminence Philip, archbishop of New York and metropolitan of All North America, of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America (AOCANA); His Grace The Right Reverend Bishop John, auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Worcester and New England (AOCANA); The Very Rev. George Roschin, representing Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate, and member of the Board of Trustees of St. Vladimir’s Seminary; The Very Rev. Dr. John Jillions, chancellor of the OCA; The Very Rev. Dr. Stephen Voytovich, dean of St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Seminary, South Canaan, PA; The Rev. Mardiros Chevian, dean of St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, New Rochelle, NY; and Matushka Marie Meyendorff, wife of Protopresbyter John Meyendorff (dean of St. Vladimir’s 1984–1992).
Distinguished guests from other church bodies included: Archbishop Robert Duncan, primate, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and Bishop Edward Salmon, sometime bishop of South Carolina and dean of Nashotah House Seminary, WI (ACNA); Msgr. Joseph G. Quinn, vice president, Fordham University Missions and Ministry; Board member of Union Theological Seminary Calvin Mew and his spouse Mary Crawford; and Viji George, Ed. D., president of Concordia College, Bronxville.
Representatives from various Orthodox Christian organizations included: Rebecca Tesar, president of the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America (FOCA); Mr. John Maddex, CEO of Ancient Faith Ministries, who arranged to record the banquet proceedings to podcast on Ancient Faith Radio; Attorney Basil Russin, second Vice President and legal counsel to The Russian Brotherhood Organization of the USA; and Mr. Constantine Triantafilou, Executive Director of International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC).Remembering travels of the first St. Vladimir’s Seminary Octet.
Other highlights of the evening included a video featuring Matushki Juliana Schmemann, wife of Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann (Dean, 1962–1983) and Marie Meyendorff, wife of Protopresbyter John Meyendorff (Dean, 1984–1992), and Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko (Dean, 1992–2002) and The Very Rev. John Erickson, hon. D.C.L. (Dean 2002–2006); a historical slideshow; and a Silent Auction filled with items related to the history and mission of the Seminary. The Honorable Michael Spano, Mayor of the City of Yonkers, NY, presented the Seminary with a special citation on the occasion.
View congratulatory letters from church and political leaders
Look for the upcoming Ancient Faith Radio “Voices from St. Vladimir’s” podcast of the 75th Anniversary Gala Banquet.