Gregory Abdalah shares his parish experience with 2017 D.Min. Cohort.
Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary here is now accepting applications for students who want to enroll in its Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) Program and comprise the “2019 Cohort,” which will commence training in Summer 2016. Potential students may explore this innovative residential program that uses distance-learning and onsite intensives by perusing the D.Min. Program page, by contacting the firstname.lastname@example.org or the email@example.com. for more information.
During the week of July 12, 2015, eleven students in the current “2017 Cohort” — who represent six Orthodox jurisdictions in the US and Canada — were on campus for their residential summer term. They completed 46 hours of intensive work in two courses—“Counseling in the Parish,” taught by Archpriest Nicholas Solak, D.Min., and “Liturgical Life and Pastoral Ministry” taught by Grant S. White, Ph.D.
Father Nicholas noted that the students’ presentation and sharing of case studies from parish settings provided “peer feedback and support of great value,” while Dr. White observed that the students’ wide-ranging experience in liturgy and life was “a great blessing” that brought “extensive knowledge and pastoral experience to their doctoral studies in ministry.
“These are people with a heart for ministry, deeply committed to addressing the challenges the Church faces in the twenty-first century,” added Dr. White. “I look forward to seeing the ways in which my students will lead, challenge, and inspire the Church in the years to come.”
Priest Alcuin Kellerhouse, a student from the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, reflected, “We each bring different experiences, but come together as a group of Christian scholars to reflect theologically on that experience, and to explore together how we can contribute to the life of Orthodoxy in North America. I always come away from the intensive refreshed and excited about the ministry we share.”
NOTE: The Danilchick Family Endowment for Pastoral Studies offers need-based financial aid for qualified Doctor of Ministry Students. Recipients of funding from the Danilchick Family Endowment for Pastoral Studies agree to give special diocesan and/or parish workshops and/or seminars in their particular areas of pastoral study. At least one such workshop or seminar shall be given by each scholarship recipient in each year they receive aid from this endowment.
Thanks to Priest John Parsells and his associates at Orthodox 360, panoramic tours of the 18th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America are now available on the OCA web site.
An updated “Quick Guide to AAC Media” appears below. Compiled by the OCA web team to provide links to official AAC audios and videos “in one place,” the Guide will provide our readers—especially those who were unable to attend the AAC—with an easy reference to AAC resources.
Christ the Saviour Patriarchal Cathedral here was the site of the celebration marking the 1000th anniversary of the repose of Saint Vladimir of Kyiv, Equal to the Apostles, on Tuesday, July 28, 2015.
At the invitation of His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus’, representatives of the world’s Local Orthodox Churches concelebrated at the Divine Liturgy and participated in a variety of events marking the occasion.
Representing the Orthodox Church in America was His Eminence, Archbishop Irenee of Ottawa and Canada, who was accompanied by Archpriest Nazari Polataiko, Secretary of the OCA Archdiocese of Canada, and Deacon Nicolas Svetlovsky of Saint Seraphim Church, Rawdon, QC, Canada.
Two days earlier—on Sunday, July 26—Archbishop Irénée celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the OCA’s Representation Church of the Great Martyr Catherine, where he was warmly welcomed by Archimandrite Alexander, Dean and OCA Representative to the Russian Orthodox Church—and a “fellow Canadian.” In the afternoon, the OCA and other delegations attended the official opening ceremonies at the city’s Tsaristyno Part and Estate, where they were greeted by Patriarch Kirill. After participating in the blessing of a newly built chapel dedicated to Saint Vladimir, Moscow’s Mayor Sergei Sobyanin hosted a reception for the delegations in the historic Catherine’s Palace.
On Monday, July 27, Archbishop Irenee, Father Nazari and Deacon Nicolas venerated the relics of Saint Tikhon of Moscow, Enlightener of America, and Saint Matrona of Moscow at the Donskoy and Pokrovsky Monasteries respectively. They then joined the delegations from the other Local Orthodox Churches at the Patriarch’s working residence, where Patriarch Kirill spoke of the anniversary’s significance. In response, His Eminence, Metropolitan Apostolos, who headed the delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, relayed official greetings from His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. At an official reception that evening, greetings on behalf of the Local Orthodox Churches were read, with Archbishop Irénée addressing Patriarch Kirill on behalf of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon.
Following the Divine Liturgy at Christ the Saviour Cathedral, the delegations attended an official reception hosted by the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, in the Kremlin’s Saint George Reception Hall.
On Monday evening, July 27, 2015, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America and President of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary [SVOTS] here; Archpriest Dr. John Behr, Dean; and Archpriest Dr. Chad Hatfield, seminary Chancellor, welcomed His Beatitude, Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East during his visit to the seminary campus, where he was awarded an honorary doctorate at an academic convocation. [See related story.]
Currently, Patriarch John is in the United States to attend the 52nd Convention of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America in Boston, MA.
Metropolitan Tikhon greeted Patriarch John in the seminary’s Three Hierarchs Chapel, where they venerated the relics of Saint Vladimir and the Holy Hierarchs Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom. In his welcoming remarks, Metropolitan Tikhon informed Patriarch John of the Resolution in Support of the Suffering in the Middle East adopted at the recent 18th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America and the spontaneous floor drive that followed, through which AAC delegates and observers raised what since then has grown to over $13,000.00 to assist International Orthodox Christian Charities in its ongoing ministry in the in the embattled region.
Patriarch John, Metropolitan Tikhon and the many hierarchs, clergy, members of the seminary faculty and Board of Trustees, and faithful in attendance then proceeded to the Metropolitan Philip Auditorium of the John G. Rangos Family Building, where Metropolitan Tikhon formally opened the convocation.
Father Hatfield vested Patriarch John with the doctoral hood. On behalf of the seminary’s Board of Trustees and Faculty Council, Professor Paul Meyendorff then read the text of the Doctor Honoris Causa, which Father Hatfield then conferred on the Patriarch, after which Metropolitan Tikhon presented the doctoral pectoral cross.
“I am grateful today to stand in this august gathering and receive this honorary doctorate from your esteemed seminary,” said Patriarch John in reflecting on the seminary’s legacy. “Saint Vladimir’s is known throughout the world by its professors who are theologians in the Orthodox sense of the word: they live what they preach, and their life is built on spiritual struggle and prayers.
“Great men of the 20th century taught at Saint Vladimir’s and illumined our contemporary theological education: teachers such as the late Fathers Georges Florovsky, Thomas Hopko, John Meyendorff and Alexander Schmemann of blessed memory,” Patriarch John continued. “I see this as a precious legacy, and I earnestly pray that you preserve this legacy and make it flourish.”
Patriarch John then fielded numerous questions related to current events in Syria and the Middle East.
“We [Christians and Muslims in the Middle East] both seek peace, we both love safety and security,” Patriarch John said, noting that this is not well understood in the west. “Nothing separates us. Mosques as well as churches are being destroyed. But the superpowers do not want to see this. We must not isolate Christians from Muslims, as if Christians are the only ones suffering. When a church is attacked, Muslims see this attack as on them. And when a mosque is destroyed, Christians feel the same. How can I live peacefully if my neighbor is suffering? We need peace, not protection. The people want to live together. Let the superpowers leave us in peace and we will take care of our own needs.”
Patriarch John emphasized the need for encouragement and assistance so “our people [can] remain steadfast in their homes in the Middle East,” recalling that it was in Antioch “the disciples were first called Christians.” He added that the suffering of so many underscores the dire need for “every possible form of humanitarian aid.” This, he said, is especially crucial in light of the destruction of 6,200 schools in Syria. He also cited the need for clothing, medicine, school supplies, and safe places for refugees.
“Again, we need peaceful solutions. We need dialogue. As Saint Macarius said, ‘heaven is seeing the other, no matter who they are, not having our back to them,’ the Patriarch concluded.
In his closing response, Metropolitan Tikhon said, “Your Beatitude, we thank you for your words of peace and for providing all of us with the joy of both hearing from you of the struggles in your Church and the joy of bestowing upon you an honorary doctorate.
“Our life as Christians is full of both joy and sorrow, and we carry both at the same time, so we are truly grateful that Your Beatitude has taken the time to give us this joy even in the midst of your struggles.
“I would like to simply add one more way that we in North America, who perhaps do not understand fully the complexities of life in the Middle East and the struggles there. In America, we are sometimes simple minded. We see things in black and white. One of the ways we often think of religion, and this is said in many areas in our North American context, is that all the conflicts in all of history were caused by religion. And I believe we here in North America need to speak very clearly and to show by our own lives that this is not true.
“All the conflicts in the world, including the conflicts today, are caused by the passions of human beings. And so, we as Christians need to live our life—a life of peace, a life of prayer, a life of repentance—that shows people that we are overcoming our own passions so that we can speak to the governments, speak to those in civil authorities, and remind them that the answer is not to provide protection, but rather to allow peace to grow in the hearts of those who truly desire that peace which comes from on high.
“So I would ask all of those gathered here, and all those in our Orthodox Churches in North America, to remember that to help the suffering Christians and all people in the Middle East, we must certainly offer our prayers and speak to those in authority, but to do all of these things as part of our ongoing life as Christians—not at one moment, when we think of it, but every single moment because, as His Beatitude has just shared with us, the struggles are ongoing. We must show our support through our ceaseless prayer for them, but also in our ceaseless struggle to live the Christian life and to share that Christian life with those around us. We must also not be swayed by political opinion and the media, but we must endeavor to seek truth and then to live our lives according to the truth, which is the love of Jesus Christ.
“We thank you. We assure you of our prayers and love. We ask you to continue to pray for us as well, knowing that from that struggle and pain you and your faithful endure deep prayer will emerge and inspire all of us to seek the way of peace and salvation.”
Among those who accompanied Patriarch John were His Eminence, Metropolitan Saba of Houran and Bosra; His Eminence, Metropolitan Ephraim of Tripoli; His Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America [AOCA]; His Grace, Bishop John of the AOCA’s Diocese of Worcester and New England; Archimandrite Parthenios, Secretary to the Patriarch; Archpriest Thomas Zain, AOCA Vicar General; Archpriest George Kevorkian, AOCA Hierarchical Assistant; Archpriest Joseph Antypas; and Patriarchal Archdeacon Gerasimos.
Also in attendance were His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West [OCA]; His Grace, Bishop Maxim of the Serbian Orthodox Archdiocese in America, who also serves as a seminary trustee; and His Grace, Bishop John of Naro-Fominsk, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA. Representing His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, was Archimandrite Dr. Nathanael Symeonides of the Office of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations. Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor, accompanied Metropolitan Tikhon.
Among the members of the seminary’s Board of Trustees present were Anne Mackoul, Greg Abdalah and James Perry.
In related news, Metropolitan Tikhon and Father Jillions will be among the invited guests at a dinner in Patriarch John’s honor at the headquarters of the Antiochian Archdiocese, Englewood, NY on Tuesday evening, July 28.
In what His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon described as “an historic first,” the FOCA held its 89th annual National Convention in conjunction with the Orthodox Church in America’s 18th All-American Council.
Originally established as the Federated Russian Orthodox Clubs in 1927, the FOCA has been an official organization of the OCA since 1994.
At the end of Liturgy, Metropolitan Tikhon presented National FOCA President Rebecca Tesar with a gramota for her three years of service as national President and for strengthening the relationship between the FOCA and the OCA through her personal efforts. Many years was then intoned for Ms. Tesar.
“I rejoice in our fellowship together,” Metropolitan Tikhon said in his banquet greetings. “I pledge my support as Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church in America to encourage your work with the youth and the seminaries and all the wonderful things that you have done so well over the years. May our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, through the North American saints, continue to bestow his blessings upon each and every one of you.”
President Tesar delivered her message and, in a surprise presentation, called upon His Eminence, Archbishop Michael of New York and New Jersey, Rector of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, to whom she presented the ceremonial check for $300,000.00, which represented the FOCA’s successful completion of its ongoing drive to help provide married student housing. Archbishop Michael movingly remarked that the FOCA had expended “a lot of blood, sweat and tears” in reaching this goal, adding that it was certainly “a miracle.”
“From the bottom of my heart, I thank you and on behalf of the married seminarians and their families who will use this housing,” Archbishop Michael said.
The convention business session opened on Monday afternoon, July 20, with a procession and the celebration of a Molieben and Memorial celebrated by Father Boback and attended by Metropolitan Tikhon and Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor. Father Evansky led the liturgical responses. After hearing reports and entertaining several motions, Archbishop Michael reiterated his thanks for the $300,000.00 in funding for the seminary project.
“I will make sure that the FOCA is remembered for this gift and will use it as a driving force to keep the project going forward,” he said.
In other actions, convention delegates approved a request from His Grace, Bishop David of Sitka and Alaska, to assist in funding a children’s book to be published in the Yupik and English languages, considered by-law and constitutional amendments, and discussed numerous other projects, including the Junior Olympics camping program at the Ohio District’s Saint Vladimir Camp. They also adopted the FOCA 2016 budget was adopted. Marge Kovach was elected FOCA President, while Allison Steffaro was elected Vice-President. Also elected were Tammy Schultz, Recording Secretary and Michael Bowen, Treasurer. Ms. Tesar will serve as Immediate Past President.
Dr. John Schultz, who had served on the FOCA’s Executive Board Past President, was “carried off” by his fellow past presidents.
The convention’s closing ceremony included the traditional circle recitation of the FOCA’s motto – “Pray, Study, Toil, Be Temperate” – and the singing of the anthem, “Faith of Our Fathers.”
Carol Deerson, a national Past President and a member of the OCA’s Preconciliar Commission, served as convention chair.
Throughout the week of the AAC, the FOCA made available an exhibit with a running video of its recent events, including the basketball tournament in Cleveland. A new brochure and copies of the the FOCA’s Orthodox Christian Journal also were distributed to visitors. Angel Delimaris, the FOCA’s Communications Director, and others were on hand to answer questions and promote the FOCA.
Many FOCA members stayed for the AAC, serving as delegates, observers and youth program participants. At a plenary session, Ms. Tesar delivered a presentation on the FOCA. And joint program/ad book, titled How to Expand the Mission, was issued by the OCA and FOCA, in which Metropolitan Tikhon’s letter strongly endorsing the FOCA Fellowship and its work with the Church was highlighted.
The FOCA’s Chicago FOCA chapters will host the 90th national Convention in Rosemont, IL—a Chicago suburb—July 22-25, 2016.
Applications must be received by the Department of Evangelization no later than August 31, 2015 to receive consideration. Grants will begin on January 1, 2016.
“Grants of up to $24,000.00 are awarded to first-year recipients,” explained Priest John Parker, Department Chair. “The grant may only be used to help provide a salary for a full-time resident priest and must be matched by the qualifying mission, deanery, or diocese. Grants may be renewed for a maximum of three years.
“More than 30 missions have received Church Planting Grants since the program was initiated over 15 years ago. Most of these missions have successfully transitioned to full parish status,” added Father Parker.
Missions that received grants in 2015 must apply anew for the coming year.
Grant applications must be reviewed and approved by the diocesan bishop before they are submitted. After a review by the Department, recommendations for qualified missions will be submitted to the Holy Synod of Bishops for final approval.
For additional information, please contact Father John Parker at 843-810-9350 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon of the Orthodox Church in America, the seminary’s President, will be present.
Patriarch John’s presentation will follow a public academic convocation in the Metropolitan Philip Auditorium of the John G. Rangos Family Building at 6:00 p.m., during which an honorary doctoral degree will be conferred upon him by the seminary Board of Trustees and Faculty Council. A public reception will follow.
“As Executive Chair of the Board of Trustees of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary,” said Alex Machaskee, “I am extremely pleased that we are conferring an honorary doctorate on His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East.”
Seminary Dean, Archpriest Dr. John Behr, added, “It is our joy to welcome Patriarch John to our campus, and it is our honor that he is willing to accept a Doctor of Divinity honoris causa from our school.”
In related news, His Eminence, Archbishop Nikon of Boston, New England and the Albanian Archdiocese, at the invitation of His Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, attended the Archdiocesan Convention in Boston, MA, at which time he offered fraternal greetings from Metropolitan Tikhon to Patriarch John on the weekend of July 25-26, 2015.
Participants in the 18th All-American Council youth program shared their “Dream for the Church” during the closing Plenary Session on Friday, July 24, 2015.
“We, the youth of the 18th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America, have a vision for our Church,” said the older youth participants in a statement to delegates and observers. “We dream of a Church that
exists to promote the Faith first and foremost;
is united as one;
consists of members who know and understand the basic tenets of the Church;
makes the Faith accessible to members of all ages;
welcomes newcomers with open arms;
embraces the diversity of cultures;
experiences growth and avoids stagnancy;
encourages the involvement and participation of all members;
communicates across jurisdictions willingly and often for the furtherance of the Faith;
uses a uniform translation in the English language among all dioceses;
has an active, well-known and central youth program for the betterment of fellowship and expansion of faith among the children and young adults of the Church; and
sees its youth not as the future of the Church, but as the present.
“This is our vision,” their well-received statement concluded. “We challenge you to help us make it a reality!”
A recommendation to establish an OCA youth program, similar to GOYA and SOYO, also was presented by the youth.
Echoing the sentiments expressed by their older peers, the fifth graders spoke of the saints they had studied during the week who “helped expand the Mission of the Church by spreading the Word of God through the building of churches and monasteries; translating the Scriptures and divine services into other languages; living a Christian life, sometimes risking their own lives by doing so; helping others by providing food, shelter, clothing and medical care to those in need; and always relying on God and humbly putting the needs of others before themselves.”
The AAC’s very youngest participants delighted delegates and observers with their presentation of “the road to sainthood” before they sang the troparion to Saint Innocent and “Beneath your compassion.”
The youth and children presented His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon with a backpack of craft supplies and a cross they had decorated with their thumbprints and signatures. He thanked the children and encouraged them “to live a good life as Christians with their families,” to “bring [their] parents to church,” and to “never get discouraged.”
In conjunction with the presentation on the Diocese of the West, His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin, noted that the ethnic makeup of the diocese is a reflection of America in general. He then introduced Archpriest David Lowell, who described how the diocese had initiated a program to help fund parish capital improvement programs—a model for the entire OCA and the whole of Orthodox Christianity in America. The Archdiocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania’s video presentation traced the Archdiocese’s lengthy history and showcased some of its current outreach ministries.
Other plenary session highlights included
a report on monastic life by Archimandrite Sergius, Abbot of Saint Tikhon’s Monastery, South Canaan, PA. After sharing insights into the life of the monastery, he asked that encouragement be offered to those attempting to understand monasticism or exploring the call to the monastic vocation. Metropolitan Tikhon urged support for the monastic life and invited representatives from the monasteries to share their insights.
A report was made by Archpriest Dr. Steven Voytovich, Dean of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, in which he reflected on the encounter with Christ on the road to Emmaus and compared the response of the apostles to the need to share the Gospel—as did the apostles. In addition, Father Steven also acknowledged the $300,000 donation given to Saint Tikhon’s Seminary by the members of the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America. Father Ignatius Gauvain, a graduate of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, spoke about the spiritual formation received at the seminary through the engagement with the monastics at Saint Tikhon’s Monastery.
In the report by Archpriest Dr. Chad Hatfield, Chancellor of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, he spoke of the centrality of fulfilling the Great Commission. Harrison Russin, presently doing a PhD in Musicology at Duke, spoke of the way in which Saint Vladimir’s Seminary prepared him, both spiritually and academically, to take on PhD work, and the great work the school is doing in preparing the next generation of professors and teachers of theological education. Father Timothy Yates spoke about the Clinical Pastoral Education program at the seminary and the way in which it opens employment opportunities for clergy and lay graduates.
A video presentation from Saint Herman’s Seminary highlighted the school’s importance in the life of the Church in Alaska. In reflecting on the importance of the OCA’s theological schools, His Eminence, Archbishop Michael, Rector of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, said that “this Council has shown that we are no longer a small Church that cannot do great things. We need to take care of the men and women in our seminaries, who will be taking care of us in the future.”
a summary of the work of the OCA Office of History and Archives by Alexis Liberovsky, Archivist. He highlighted the work of the Archives Advisory Committee, which is exploring long-term plans to ensure that the Archives may continue to serve the Church in the years to come. His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel commended Mr. Liberovsky for the valuable assistance he offered in the preparation of the Statute revision as well as his work as Archivist.
With regard to the Resolution on Spiritual Abuse brought up at the fourth Plenary Session, it was noted that this serious issue, related to the spiritual health of the clergy, will be taken up by members of the Holy Synod of Bishops.
After the closing prayer, delegates, participants and youth began their journeys home, renewed and refreshed in the Spirit and ready to “put into action” all that they had prayerfully heard, seen, witnessed and learned during their AAC experience. As one senior archpriest commented as he ran to catch the airport shuttle, “on a scale of one to ten, this Council was a fifteen!”
Mission must be both internal and external, said His Beatitude, Metropolitan Onufry of Kyiv and All Ukraine during the formal banquet during the 18th All-American Council on Thursday evening, July 23, 2015. The Holy Spirit, he said, guides us in understanding that mission is “who we are and what we do” and challenges us to be good “examples of holiness.”
Metropolitan Onufry reflected on the ministry of Saint Tikhon, who had served as bishop and later archbishop in North America from 1897 through 1907. He observed how, upon Saint Tikhon’s return to his homeland, it was clear that he had been influenced by his tenure in North America, especially with regard to his commitment to mission and outreach as well as collegiality within the life of the Church. This, in turn, influenced his ministry during his last years—years of certain turmoil and persecution.
Metropolitan Onufry attended the AAC at the invitation of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon and the Holy Synod of Bishops. He was accompanied by His Grace, Bishop Evsevy of Khotinsk. Also present was His Grace, Bishop John, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA.
Metropolitan Onufry also addressed AAC delegates during the Plenary Session held earlier in the day. He observed that in the Council he sees the result of the mission to North America “because, in the eyes of all who are present at this Council, I see Christ. This is evidence of the good fruit brought fourth as a result of the mission of Saint Herman of Alaska as the Church faces current issues of missionary service in the world and, in particular, in North America and Ukraine.”
In his greetings to the assembly, Metropolitan Tikhon expressed his gratitude to all who participated in the AAC and contributed to the “wonderful events” that had taken place during the week. He emphasized, that “we are each called to be apostles, to love God above all and our neighbor as our selves.”
Greetings were read from His Eminence, Archbishop Leo of Karelia and All Finland, who had been invited to the AAC but was unable to attend. Archbishop Leo extended an invitation to Metropolitan Tikhon to visit the Church of Finland at a future date.
The hierarchs processed into the banquet hall as the assembly sang “O Lord, save Thy People,” Alexis Steffaro sang the national anthems of the United States, Canada and Mexico. A color guard from Boy Scout Troop #287 held flags as the assembly said the Pledge of Allegiance.
With characteristic “Southern humor,” Archpriest Markus Burch, Chancellor of the Diocese of the South and banquet toastmaster, offered opening words of welcome, while Archimandrite Gerasim, Administrator of the Diocese of the South, reflected on the AAC theme in his remarks to the assembly. He also recognized the many individuals who offered their time and talents to make the Council possible. Banquet-goers also enjoyed a video presentation on the AAC theme, “How To Expand The Mission.”
During the banquet, the Order of Saint Innocent was awarded to Dr. Barbara Massoudi and Michaela Staskiewicz, who chaired the Local AAC Committee, for their exemplary work. Gramoti were presented to Deacon Gabriel Aldridge and Gregory Carageorge in recognition of their dedicated labor in producing the video on the Council theme.
The AAC draws to a close on Friday, July 24, with the final Plenary Session.
After the celebration of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy early Thursday morning, July 23, 2015, and during the AAC’s fifth Plenary Session, delegates to the 18th All-American Council adopted a resolution expressing the Orthodox Church in America’s solidarity with Christians suffering persecution in the Middle East and calling on governments to do everything possible to ensure their safety.
Presented by Dr. Paul Meyendorff and adopted by acclamation, the text of the resolution reads as follows.
“Whereas recent developments in the Middle East have caused great suffering to Christians in the area, leading to numerous deaths, desperate living conditions and mass movement of refugees, we, gathered at the 18th All-American Council in Atlanta, Georgia, express our solidarity and support for all suffering peoples in the area, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we call on our respective governments to take vigorously all possible political and humanitarian measures to ensure their safety and the survival of Christianity in the lands where it first took hold.”
In a video produced by International Orthodox Christian Charities, introduced by Rada Tierney, the plight of the three million refugees and persons displaced from Syria and the measures being taken by the Patriarchate of Antioch and IOCC to alleviate their suffering were highlighted. In response to a recommendation by Archpriest John Zdinak, delegates spontaneously donated nearly $12,000.00 to assist IOCC in its ongoing ministry in the Middle East.
Earlier, Judge E. R. Lanier, AAC Lay Vice-Chair, opened the plenary session by recognizing the retired clergy in attendance. He also recognized Dr. Constantine Kallaur, who was a member of the OCA delegation that received the Tomos of Autocephaly in Moscow in 1970. His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon presented a pocket watch to Archpriest Myron D. Manzuk, Minneapolis, MN, in appreciation of his many years of dedicated service as All-American Council Manager.
Archpriest Eric G. Tosi and Priests David Rucker and John Parker described the first-ever OCA Mission School, held in Detroit in the spring of 2015. The highly successful week-long school was entirely supported by a bequest of nearly $1 million received by the OCA. A second Mission School will be offered in a different region in 2016.
Archpriests Antonio Perdomo and Thomas Moore were elected Metropolitan Council clergy representatives for six-year and three-year terms respectively, while Priest Elijah Muller will serve as alternate. Elected as lay representatives for six-year and three-year terms respectively were Matushka Kitty Vitko and Larry Skvir. Michael Strelka will serve as alternate.
Priest Gleb McFatter and Archpriest John Zdinak were elected Pension Board clergy representatives for six-year and three-year terms respectively, while Matushka Mary Buletza Breton and Barry Gluntz were elected as lay representatives for six-year and three-year terms respectively as lay representatives. Michael Mezmar will serve as alternate.
In related news, delegates once again attended their choice of ten different workshops on topics ranging from Clergy Self Help and Parish Finances to Preaching on Campuses and the Use of the Web. The workshops were also offered on Wednesday afternoon to afford participants to attend multiple sessions.
Saint Silas was a companion and fellow labourer of the Apostle Paul: "And Paul chose Silas and departed...and he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches" (Acts 15:40-41). He later became Bishop of Corinth, and reposed in peace. Saint Silvanos became Bishop of Thessalonica, and also reposed in peace. Saint Crescents, whom Saint Paul mentions in his Second Epistle to Timothy(4:10), became Bishop of Chalcedon, and brought many to the Faith. As for him whom the Apostle of the Nations praises as "my well-beloved Epenetus, the first-fruits of Achaia unto Christ" (Roman 16:5), he became Bishop of Carthage, and after enduring many afflictions from the idolators, and bringing many of them to Christ, he departed to the Lord.
Reading copyright Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Brookline, MA, used by permission. All rights reserved. (show less)
In Orthodox Christian countries, individuals traditionally celebrate their nameday instead of their birthday. Since Orthodox Christians are usually named after a saint or feast day of the Church, all those having the same name celebrate together on that saint's feast or the particular feast of the Church.All those named after Joseph the Righteous of Arimathea celebrate their nameday on July 31. (show less)
After the First Martyr had been stoned to death (see Dec. 27), Gamaliel, his teacher, encouraged certain of the Christians to go by night and take up the Saint's body and bury it in his field, which was at a distance of some twenty miles from Jerusalem and was called by his name, "Kaphar-gamala," that is, "the field of Gamala," where Gamaliel himself was later buried. About the year 427, a certain pious man called Lucian, who was the parish priest of a church near to that field, received from God a revelation in a dream concerning the place where the First Martyr was buried. He immediately made this known to John, the Patriarch of Jerusalem. Thus, coming to the place indicated, and digging there, they found a box with the word "Stephen" in Aramaic letters. On opening it, they took these most sacred relics and transferred them to Jerusalem with great honor and in the company of a very great multitude of the faithful.Reading copyright Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Brookline, MA, used by permission. All rights reserved. (show less)
Our Lord had spoken to His disciples many times not only concerning His Passion, Cross, and Death, but also concerning the coming persecutions and afflictions that they themselves would endure. Since all these evils were near at hand, but the enjoyment of good things which they hoped to receive in their stead was yet to come, our Savior desired to give them full assurance, evidently and openly, concerning that glory which is prepared for those who endure to the end. Therefore, fulfilling that which He had promised shortly before, that "there be some standing here which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in His Kingdom" (Matt. 16:28), He took His three foremost disciples and ascended Mount Tabor, where He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as the light. Suddenly, together with this dread and marvelous effulgence of light, there appeared those pinnacles of the Prophets, Moses and Elias, who spoke with the Lord Jesus concerning His saving Passion which was about to take place. Standing before Him as reverent servants, they showed that He is the Lord of both the living and the dead, for Moses came forth from Hades, having died many centuries before, and Elias, as it were from heaven, whither he had been taken up while yet alive. After a little while a radiant cloud overshadowed them and out of the cloud they heard that same voice which had been heard at the Jordan at the Baptism of Christ, testifying to the Divinity of Jesus and saying: "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well-pleased; hear ye Him" (Matt. 17: 5).
Such are the marvels, truly worthy of God, celebrated in this present feast, which is an image and prefiguring of the future state of the righteous, whose splendor the Lord spoke of, saying: "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun" (Matt. 13:43). It is because of this that the Kontakion of this Feast is said daily (when there is not a great feast) in the Service of the Typica in perpetual commemoration of the glory that will be the lot of the Saints. According to tradition, the Lord's Transfiguration came to pass forty days before His Crucifixion; this is why the Transfiguration is celebrated forty days before the Exaltation of the Cross.Reading copyright Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Brookline, MA, used by permission. All rights reserved. (show less)
In Orthodox Christian countries, individuals traditionally celebrate their nameday instead of their birthday. Since Orthodox Christians are usually named after a saint or feast day of the Church, all those having the same name celebrate together on that saint's feast or the particular feast of the Church.All those named after Commemoration of St. Spyridon's Miracle in Corfu against the Turkish invasion of 1716 celebrate their nameday on August 11. (show less)
Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church