(Tyler, TX) As reported eariler, St. John Damascas Mission celebrated its first Great Vespers and Divine Liturgy here last Friday and Saturday, (Nov 17/18.) Priest John Anderson of St. Seraphim Cathedral led the mission faithful in worship. The mission is using rented facilities complete with iconostasis built by Priest Michael Storozek of St. Paul Mission, Dennison, TX.)
If you would like more information about the Tyler mission, please contact Terry Cowan, the mission contact person at 1-903-539-7124.
October 28, 2006
(Miami, FL) His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI, blessed the new Christ the Saviour Cathedral here on October 27 and 28. Clergy from the South Florida Deanery and sister Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox communities were represented. His Eminence encouraged the gathered faithful to see the new Cathedral as a focal point for outreach and renewal and to bring others to Christ and the Orthodox Church.
The day-long festivities at Christ the Saviour began with the blessing of water, followed by the blessing of the Cathedral and the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. The day continued with a grand banquet and concluded with the clergy of the DOS South Florida Deanery meeting with Archbishop DMITRI.
The Diocese of the South will celebrate its 30th Anniversary in 2008. A year-long remembrance of the 30th year will begin at the 2007 DOS Assembly in Miami. Miami was the first diocesan see of the DOS. The culmination of the 30th year celebration will at the 2008 Diocesan Assembly hosted by St. Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas, the current see of the DOS
(Dallas, TX) The clergy of the South Central Deanery of the Diocese of the South met here. The day long gathering began with the Divine Liturgy at St. Seraphim Cathedral, followed by the meeting and lunch. Archpriest Basil Zebrun, Dean, presided at the Liturgy and chaired the meeting. The South Central Deanery includes parishes in New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi. Given the great geographic distance of the deanery, its clergy typically meet twice a year.
November 15, 2006
(Dallas, TX) His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI officially blessed the Aiken, SC Mission Station with its name, Holy Resurrection Orthodox Mission. The mission is a plant of Holy Apostle Church in Columbia, SC. Priest Andrew Diehl is the mission's first priest-in-charge.
Link to the Mission's website http://www.holyapostles.org/aiken/
(Baton Rouge, LA)
Priest Matthew Jackson, priest-in-charge of Christ the Saviour Mission
in McComb, MS and several of his parishioners traveled to Baton Rouge to celebrate the Divine Liturgy on the patronal feastday of the St. Matthew Mission
here. The mission in Baton Rouge is in the early stages of its development and is being serviced by priests from the DOS. The St. Matthew Mission is a mixed community of cradle Orthodox, converts, and seekers. The Mission is currently using a store-front facility that includes not only worship space but a bookstore as well. Congratuations to Father Matthew Jackson on his namesday and to the faithful of the Mission in Baton Rouge.
(Tyler, TX) The mission community of St. John of Damascas will hold its first Vespers and Divine Liturgy here tonight and tomorrow. Priest John Anderson, Associate Priest at St. Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas, will lead the worship services assisted by Deacon Gregory Norris, also of St. Seraphim Cathedral. The St. John of Damascas mission is the only Orthodox community in the greater Tyler area and is made up of a small but growing group of dedicated Orthodox and seekers. A full use chapel has been established complete with iconostatis, thanks to the workmanship of Fr. Michaelof St. Paul Church in Denison, TX. Please keep this mission community in your prayers this weekend.
John Hennies was ordained to the Holy Diaconate here at St. Seraphim Cathedral today. He will be ordained to the Holy Priesthood tommorow and will be assigned priest-in-charge of St. Dmitri of Rostov Mission
in Los Alamos, NM. Deacon Hennies is a former Episcopal clergyman and a graduate of Havard Divinity School.
Deacon John Hennies was ordained to the Holy Priesthood here by His Eminence Archbishop DMITRI. Surrounded by family and faithful from St. Dmitri of Rostov Mission in Los Alamos, NM, Father John distributed Holy Communion to the faithful at St. Seraphim Cathedral.
Before returning to Los Alamos to begin his ministry at St. Dmitri Mission, Father John will assist Archpriest George Sondergaard celebrate the Divine Liturgy at All Saints of North America Orthodox Church
in Albuquerque, NM on Tuesday for the Feast of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple. Father George has been assigned by His Eminence as Fr. John's priest-mentor.
We welcome Father John and Matushka Anna as fellow workers in the Diocese of the South. May God Grant You Many Years!
(DALLAS,TX) With work completed on the rear section of ceiling at St. Seraphim Cathedral, the scaffolding was repositioned to the front of the Cathedral revealing the spectacular iconography work done by Vladimir Grigorenko. The three rear ceiling panels depict the Baptism, Transfiguration and Cruxifiction of our Lord. Work on the final three ceiling panels in the front of the Cathedral will depict the Resurrection, Pentecost, and Nativity of Christ. The project entire project is scheduled for completion in 2008.
The website of the Diocese of the South has a new domain address. The new address is dosoca.org
The website will still use the services of Orthodox Web Solutions
of New Jersey whose support is invaluable!
After celebrating the Divine Liturgy at St. Seraphim Cathedral, His Eminence will "hit the road" early Friday morning for Archpastoral visits to Anniston, AL., Charleston, SC., Macon, GA., and Clinton, MS. The trip will combine an official Archpastoral visit to Holy Ascension Mission
in Charleston/Mt. Pleasant, SC where he will bless the cornerstone on the new church being built there.
First stop will be Anniston, AL., where Dr. Carla Thomas is the key lay person leading an outreach to the black residents of Anniston. Dr. Thomas, with the blessing of His Eminence, has set up a chapel in part of her medical building.
Next stop will be Charleston for Great Vespers on Saturday and the Divine Liturgy on Sunday.
His Eminence will then visit St. Innocent Mission
in Macon, GA, to meet with the Priest-in-Charge, Fr. Chris Williamson and the mission faithful and be updated on their progress and growth.
Before returning to Dallas sometime Monday, His Eminence will make a stop in Clinton, MS. to inspect the new church building of Holy Resurrection Church
, which moved into its new facilites in October.
Although His Eminence celebrated his 83rd birthday eariler this month, such "whistle-stop" trips are an important way the Archbishop keeps in close contact with the faithful of his far-flung diocese. Please keep His Eminence and his travel companions, Milos Konjevich, Vladimir Grigorenko, and Mikael Gladskov, in your prayers.
(Mt. Pleasant, SC) His Eminence, Arcbhbishop DMITRI ordained subdeacon Mark Barna to the Holy Diaconate here today as part of his Archpastoral visit to Holy Ascension Mission. Deacon Mark will be attatched to the mission here and assist Priest John Parker, priest-in-charge of the mission. His Eminence also blessed the cornerstone of the church being built in the suburb of Charleston, SC.
The Archbishop will leave SC this afternoon and travel to GA where he will visit St. Innocent Mission in Macon.
- Day One -
(DALLAS, TX) His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI returned to Dallas last night completing his swing through the southeastern area of the Diocese of the South. In reviewing the trip, he called it "inspiring and humbling." Inspiring because of the miraculous work taking place by dedicated and self-sacrificing clergy and laity and humbling because of the awesome opportunities that God continues to give us in spreading the Gospel in this diocese.
The trip was a microcosm of the DOS, from fledging new missions, missions building impressive new temples, communities that have completed building new temples and are growing the church, to “established” communities like Clinton, MS that outgrew their facilities and moved into a larger temple with auxiliary buildings to increase the opportunities for parish development and community outreach.
The first stop on the trip was Anniston, AL. where Dr. Carla Thomas has carved out a small mission outpost dedicated to Ss. Cosmas and Damian. Her medical office, adorned with icons, includes a waiting room which also serves as an Orthodox bookstore and is convertible to worship space when clergy from Atlanta come for the divine services.
Remarking on His Eminence’s visit to Anniston, Dr. Carla commented, “His Eminence visited for an hour….one heavenly peace filled hour and the Ss. Cosmas and Damian Mission had its first service conducted by Vladyka himself. Truly, I am the most blessed woman on earth. What a seed planter and sower he is.” Carla in a message to Archpriest Peter Smith, Dean of the Southeastern Deanery, went on to say, “Yet now the work begins. He, (the Archbishop) told me what to do….and I shall do it. The blessing of an Archbishop of Christ is indeed a beauty to behold."
Dr. Carla’s faith and commitment are being repeated by countless clergy and laity who have captured the missionary vision of the DOS as faithfully lived by His Eminence since the birth of this diocese.
Tomorrow, we will continue our review of the trip through the southeast. Next stop, Mt. Pleasant/Charleston, SC and Holy Ascension Mission, where Priest John Parker - and his growing band of missionary faithful - are building an impressive temple in the heart of an upscale planned community on the edge of Charleston.
- Day Two and Three -
After spending the night at the “posh” Motel 8 in Georgia, His Eminence and his fellow travelers, Milos Konjevich, DOS Treasurer, and Subdeacons Vladimir Grygorenko and Mikael Gladskov, continued their journey. The destination, Mt. Pleasant, SC, a close in suburb of historic Charleston, SC where Priest John Parker leads the fast growing community of Holy Ascension Mission.
Started in 2000 and officially founded in 2002, Archpriest John Breck former professor at St. Vladimir Seminary was instrumental in the early development of the mission and played an important role in helping secure the mission's current building location.
His Eminence’s Archpastoral visit to Holy Ascension included the celebration of the Lord’s Day services at which two of the favorite sons of the community, Wayne Nagy was tonsured a reader and subdeacon Mark Barna was ordained to the Holy Diaconate. Deacon Mark will be attached to the Mt. Pleasant mission and assist Father Parker. Such ordinations are another sign of the growing maturity of this community. At the conclusion of the Liturgy, His Eminence awarded Fr. John the skufia and nebedrenik. Axios!
After the Divine Liturgy the gathered faithful followed His Eminence and the clergy as they walked the 400 yards from the storefront chapel and bookstore of Holy Ascension, to the building site of the impressive new temple. At the building site, His Eminence blessed the cornerstone of the new church.
The site of the new temple is in the center of an upscale planned community on the edge of Charleston, SC. As the new community was being built, members of the parish inquired of the community developer if there were any space set aside for churches. When the answer back was a definite “Yes” the process began to purchase a piece of property in the development. After much good-willed negotiations, the Christian generosity of the neighborhood developer, and the financial commitment of the Mission faithful, the current piece of property the church is being built on was purchased at a greatly discounted price.
The neighborhood has embraced Holy Ascension Mission, seeing it and the other church being built in the planned community as essential components to the overall spirit of the development.
As the walls of the new church go up, one can begin to see what the finished temple will look like, complete with an adult walk-in baptistery between the narthex and nave of the church. “This community, like others in our diocese welcomes all people, cradle Orthodox, and converts. We learn from each other the joys of the Orthodox faith,” commented Fr. Parker. “We are blessed to be here.”
Day Three of His Eminence’s southeastern tour will focus on his stop at St. Innocent Mission in Macon, GA where Fr. Chris Williamson is the priest-in-charge. The temple in Macon has already become a place of interest to the local community, attracting visitors on a regular basis.
- Day Three Continues -
After leaving Charleston, SC in the late afternoon, His Eminence traveled well into the evening to arrive at St. Innocent Mission in Macon, GA. Because the mission is located in a wooded area on the outskirts of Macon, finding it proved a bit of a challenge in the dark of night; however the Archbishop noticed a strong light emanating in the distance and told subdeacon Vladimir to head toward the light. As they turned the corner, there, standing out like a beacon was the beautiful temple dedicated to St. Innocent, Apostle to America.
Based on the architecture of a classic Georgian Orthodox church, St. Innocent Mission is fast becoming a destination for people who have heard of this beautiful church in the woods. Seeing it at night, one can understand why people are searching it out.
As impressive as the temple is from the outside, the inside is no less impressive where the traditional Georgian style continues with high ceilings and archways that mark off the open spaces for worship that all point to the iconostasis and altar.
After entering the church and venerating the altar, His Eminence inspected the church and spent time with Priest Christoper Williamson, priest-in-charge of the mission. Fr. Christopher lives in Atlanta and travels to Macon at least three times a week to serve the spiritual needs of his flock. The mission is in the process of working out the details so Fr. Christopher and his family can move to Macon.
The conversation and fellowship continued in the church hall as Fr. Christopher and a few members of the mission, who patiently waited for His Eminence well into the late evening, reported on the missionary efforts of the community. Founded in 1996, the mission has made great progress, yet all know there is still much work ahead.
By the Grace of God and the dedicated stewardship of the pastor and flock of St. Innocent Mission, another Orthodox community has been established inviting all people to “come and see” and learn about Christ in the Orthodox Church.
Tomorrow we conclude our review of His Eminence’s sojourn through the southeastern area of the DOS with his final stop in Clinton, MS where Holy Resurrection Church has just moved into its new church complex
- Day Four –
The final day of the southeastern tour began with an early morning departure from Macon, GA and the long drive back to Dallas. As in years past when His Eminence would travel back and forth between Dallas and Miami, Clinton, MS (a suburb of Jackson) and the home of Archpriest Paul and Matushka “Sissy” Yerger was a familiar and comfortable way station to break up his long drive. So when His Eminence called the Yergers and said he would be stopping by for lunch, the Yergers went into “Vladika’s on his way" mode and offered their customary Mississippi hospitality.
However, what made this “drop in” different was that Father Paul and Sissy (both natives of Mississippi) had something new to show His Eminence -a new church complex for Holy Resurrection.
As reported earlier last month here on the DOS website the community of Holy Resurrection took possession for the Lord of a large Presbyterian church just down the street from Holy Resurrection’s old home. The faithful have converted the interior of the temple into Orthodox worship space with ample room for growth, something badly lacking in the old church. Additionally, the new church complex has a large fellowship hall, classrooms and office space for Fr. Paul who has faithfully led this community since its founding in 1977.
When one thinks of Orthodoxy, the state of Mississippi may not be the first place that comes to mind, but don’t tell that to the flock here, who also helped plant the Orthodox mission of Christ the Savior in McComb, MS. Upon inspecting the new facilities, His Eminence charged Fr. Paul to “double the size of the community right away!”
His Eminence is confident that because of the love and dedication of Fr. Paul and his flock, the new facilities will help them better promote Orthodoxy in the greater Jackson, MS area and that the DOS will see even more converts to the faith coming from Mississippi.
His Eminence arrived here this afternoon to bid farewell to Priest David Rucker who will end his service to St. Athanasius Church
David will take up his new duties as Assistant Director of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC)
in St. Augustine, FL later in the month. Although Fr. David will remain a member of the DOS, and be attached to St. Justin Martyr Church
in Jacksonville, FL, his day-to-day duties at OCMC will occupy his time as he assists the OCMC Executive Director, Father Martin Ritsi.
The weekend at St. Athanasius Church will also include the ordination to the Holy
Diaconate of subdeacon Kevin Rigdon, His Eminence will also tonsure readers and ordain subdeacons at the Sunday Liturgy before returning to Dallas on Sunday.
Priest Stephen Freeman, Dean of the Appalachian Deanery will also be present in Nicholasville where his community of St. Anne’s
in Oak Ridge, TN, will make a special presentation to the St. Athanasius community. With the departure of Fr. David, His Eminence will assign Priest Justin Patterson as the new priest-in-charge of St. Athanasius Church.
The DOS website will have a complete photo story on the Nicholasville visit of His Eminence early next week.
Early saint inspired Santa Claus
Orthodox priest to portray St. Nick in weekend events
The Rev. Thomas Moore of Holy Apostles Orthodox Church in West Columbia dressed as St. Nicholas.
It takes only some ornate red and gold vestments and a mitered hat to transform the Rev. Thomas Moore into St. Nicholas.
Legend has it the real Nicholas, born in the third century in what is now southern Turkey, earned his reputation for gift-giving by helping a destitute family with three daughters.
Moore, pastor of the Holy Apostles Orthodox Church in West Columbia, hands out gold coins to remind people of the faithfulness of that early Christian saint, the spiritual forerunner of our modern Santa Claus.
“He took gold from the church and threw it through the windows,” Moore, pastor of Holy Apostles Orthodox Church said in recounting the legend of St. Nicholas.
Nicholas, a bishop who devoted his life to helping others and suffered persecution for his faith, did this on three successive nights. Legend has it the coins landed in a stocking and shoes near the fireplace, the money ensuring that each girl would have a dowry.
The Orthodox Church’s St. Nicholas Day is celebrated Dec. 6, and many children around the globe set out shoes the night before in hopes of receiving small gifts from St. Nicholas.
As his congregation prepares for its annual St. Nicholas festival Saturday, Moore hopes the story of St. Nicholas will resonate with those who may hunger for an understanding of the early Christian church and his own Orthodox faith.
“St. Nicholas is my Trojan horse,” the bearded Moore laughed. “You get him in the door and then you can talk about scripture.”
Holy Apostles is rooted in the traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church but is a congregation of the Orthodox Church in America, which is governed by an American leader, or metropolitan.
At Holy Apostles, church members participate in a 40-day period of fasting from meats that prepares them for the birth of Christ. That fast ends on Christmas Day when the 12 days of Christmas truly begins, he said.
Moore will portray St. Nicholas at the Cayce Historical Museum’s Christmas event tonight and in the West Metro Holiday Parade of Lights Saturday night.
“It is just totally appropriate for us,” said Leo Redmond, the museum’s director. There will be others in costume, including actor Howard Burnham, who will tell the Charles Dickens story.
“Some of these people don’t even know who St. Nicholas is,” Redmond said. Moore is “really into it, and he looks the part.”
Moore will have his photograph taken with children as he fills their hands with coins.
“I tell them I’m not the real St. Nicholas, but there was one.”
Reach Click at (803) 771-8386.
IF YOU GO
The Rev. Thomas Moore, pastor of Holy Apostles Orthodox Church, will portray St. Nicholas three times this weekend, including during the West Metro Holiday Parade of Lights:
Christmas Traditions Open House, Cayce Historical Museum.
6:30 p.m. Friday. Includes lantern tours. 1800 12th St., Cayce
St. Nicholas Festival, Holy Apostles Orthodox Church .
10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Food, crafts and magic demonstrations. Concerts at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. featuring a capella liturgical music of the Orthodox Christian Church. 724 Buff St., West Columbia. www.saintnicholasfestival.org
Cayce’s and West Columbia’s West Metro Holiday Parade of Lights.
5:30 p.m. Saturday. Begins at 101 12th St., West Columbia
The following is taken with permission from the blog of Priest Stephen Freeman. It is a wonderful insight to the weekend events in Nicholasville, but also captures so beautifully what it means for this priest and by extension, how this diocese feels when it gathers around its Archpastor who is in that long line of successors to the Apostles.
+ + +
I am spending this weekend in Nicholasville, Ky, with my Archbishop and several clergy friends. We are saying goodby to Fr. David Rucker who will soon take up a position at the Orthodox Christian Mission Center, and we say hello, to Fr. Justin Patterson, my former assistant priest, as the new priest in charge of St. Athanasius in Kentucky. In addition tomorrow, we will see the tonsuring of two men as Readers, another two as Sub-deacons, and another ordained to the Holy Diaconate. My job as Dean of the Appalachian Deanery is mostly to hang around and be overjoyed at all of these wonderful happenings.
But apart from that, I have a very strong vision this night, a reminder of the nature of the Church. St. Paul said the Church was built on the foundation of the Apostles and the Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone. Such language can become so encrusted with the centuries of “Scriptural usage” that we forget what it means. That the Church is built on the foundation of the Apostles and the Prophets, for the writer Paul, is nothing other than saying that the Church is built on the foundation of men that he knows. Nor is it any different today. Even though the foundation has been laid, and no other foundation can be laid, other than Christ Jesus, still each course of stone that is laid, is the living stone of the saints. I am witness to the laying of yet another course (this time of ordained ministry) other times of other ministries. I stand in witness to one of the successors of the Apostles and watch him lay yet another layer of the foundation.
The Church, whatever and however we approach it, cannot be other than men and women in the body of Christ. It is not an institution, in any non-personal sense. It is utterly and only personal, being built entirely of persons.
It is this great assemblage of persons that I think about on occasions such as this weekend. Not just the persons that I am sharing these wonderful events with, but with the persons of the Church everywhere. With the parish of St. Anne back home, with my Deanery and Diocese, with the Orthodox Church in America and throughout the world, and the great cloud of witnesses that surrounds us at every move. But none of it is other than persons. All of them live and die and live in Christ. Each had nervous days like my own (this weekend). Each had wonderful moments and of great joy. But all of it, is built in the manner that God intended - not of syllogism and statement, but of lives lived in union with Christ. The Church consists of nothing other than that - lives lived in union with Christ. May He bless this wonderful weekend, and the lives of which He is constructing His Church.
(Nicholasville, KY) His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI thanked Priest David Rucker for his dedicated service to St. Athanasius Church here as he now moves on to his new ministry with the Orthodox Christian Mission Center. His Eminence installed Fr. Justin Patterson to replace Fr. Rucker. Fr. Justin was the assistant priest at St. Ann’s in Oak Ridge (Knoxville) TN. Both Fr. David and Fr. Justin were awarded the nabedrenik and Fr. Rucker was awarded the skufia.
The weekend also included the ordination of subdeacon Kevin Rigdon to the Holy Diaconate and the making of three readers and two additional Subdeacons.
The St. Athanasius mission has purchased a spectacular piece of property that is literally on the top of a hill overlooking the beautiful countryside near Nicholasville. The mission’s goal is to pay off the $100,000 land cost as soon as possible and then turn their sights on the building of a temple. So far, St. Athanasius has raised $50,000 in pledges.
In a sign of solidarity with its sister parish, the Priest Stephen Freeman, Dean of the Appalachian Deanery announced at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy that the St. Anne Mission will provide a grant of $25,000 to match the next $25,000 in pledges thus completing their goal. Such a visible sign of support is another indication of the mission commitment of the clergy and faithful of the DOS for the missionary growth the Church.
In commenting on the weekend, His Eminence stated, “the zeal for the faith demonstrated by the people who gathered in Nicholasville is another indication of how the Lord is blessing this diocese and all those who stay focused on Christ and the spreading of the Gospel.”
(Ft. Lauderdale) Under the direction of Archpriest Ernesto Rios, Dean, the South Florida Deanery of the DOS will meet here tomorrow. The meeting will center on the theme of Outreach.
This deanery meeting is a follow up to the meeting His Eminence held with the deanery clergy during the blessing of the new Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Miami in October. At that meeting, Archbishop DMITRI challenged the clergy in the deanery to work together so that the common work of reaching those searching for the Orthodox Faith can be more readily accomplished. "I am convinced that the parishes in the South Florida deanery can grow and reach out to more people," His Eminence stated.
For many reasons, growth in DOS parishes in South Florida has lagged in recent years. However this slowdown is not consistent with the history the deanery. "The renewal of the South Florida Deanery will benefit the entire Diocese of the South."
Archpriest Kirrill Gvosdev and St. Nicholas Church will host the meeting. A complete report on the meeting will be offered on the DOS website.
(Ft. Lauderdale) With the blessing of His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI, the clergy of the South Florida Deanery elected Archpriest Philip Reese as their new dean here on Friday. In being notified of the election, Archbishop DMITRI stated that he was grateful for the faithful service of Archpriest Ernesto Rios who was dean of the deanery for many years. His Eminence went on to say that he has every confidence that Fr. Philip will do an excellent job as dean and that he would focus his service as dean in fostering the revitalization of the South Florida Deanery.
(McComb, MS) Priest Matthew Jackson, priest-in-charge of Christ the Saviour Mission in here has been suffering from severe joint pain the past several weeks. Yesterday, Fr. Matthew met with a specialist in Jackson, MS to determine the nature of his condition. Below is an email that Fr. Matthew has shared, and with persmission is being posted here. Please keep Fr. Matthew, Matushka Xenia and their five children in your prayers.
Christ is in our midst!
I apologize for not getting this email out earlier, as I know that you all are anxious for news. I have not carried my cell phone today, either, although I can guess that I have plenty of calls for updates.
Firstly, thank you all for your continuing prayers during this time. I really liked the rheumatologist that I saw at St. Dominic Hospital, and he actually had a good bit to say. He did a thorough interview in his office, and then an examination of all of my joints (noting swelling/tenderness/shape/etc.), some X-rays, and quite alot of blood work (9 tubes full!). The preliminary diagnosis (which he feels is basically the final diagnosis as well) is ACUTE INFLAMMATORY ARTHRITIS. In other words, rheumatoid arthritis. It is a pretty severe case, affecting so many joints with so much swelling and pain. He even identified swelling in joints that I haven't had any difficulties out of yet, as well as early deformities developing in my toe joints. Another layer of the severity--it has gotten into my lungs, and the lymph-nodes in my chest are swollen. Some people experience this, but it is a much less common occurance. The irritation can also get into the blood vessels and affect the heart, but that does not seem to be happening yet. His prognosis was positive--with all of the new treatments options, he really feels that we'll be able to get it under control before too long. But the treatment plan he proposed is extreme. I will go back on December 18 (Monday), and at that time he will have all the lab work back, and the actual treatment schedule will be determined. In the meantime (this week)...today he gave me a shot of cortisone and a shot of pain reliever. This week I will be taking Prednisone (a steroidal immuno-suppressant), Celebrex (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug), and Lorcet (a pain medication). This week will basically get the pain and swelling and inflammation under control, and after that the actual treatment for the arthritis will begin. Stage 1 will be chemotherapy (yes, the same as cancer patients get, once a week by IV, in an appropriate dosage). After that is a "cocktail" of various drugs to help suppress the spread of the disease, help manage pain, help decrease the risk of joint degeneration and damage, and basically to help me be able to live a "normal" life. If all goes well, periodically they try to get patients off of so many drugs, but we have a long way to go before that stage.
Please keep me in your prayers. The next several months are looking a bit frightening, but by God's grace all will go well. There are also no guarantees--the treatment works miracles for some, but others are less fortunate. I will continue to keep you all updated as I learn and know more, and as this process continues.
After battling a persistent cold and the flu since his return from Nicholasville, KY two weeks ago, His Eminence Archbishop DMITRI flew to Tampa, FL today to visit three parishes here.
After landing in Tampa, His Eminence spent the late afternoon at St Philip the Apostle Mission
where he inspected the altar, met with Priest Joseph Ciarciaglino and spent time in fellowship with the parishioners.
His Eminence will visit St. Raphael of Brooklyn Mission
in Inverness, FL on Saturday afternoon before celebrating the Lord's Day cycle at St. Andrew Church
in New Port Richey.
The DOS website will present a complete report on the trip Monday.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Christ is in our midst!
I write once again to update you all on this current health trial I am undergoing. As you know, I was officially diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis on Dec 11. I went back to the rheumatologist yesterday (Dec 18), and was able to look over all of my test results from the first week, and begin to see how the doctor wants to proceed in treating me. The results of my blood work confirm the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. My case is on the severe end of the scale, with very high numbers for inflammation in my body.
With RA the joints become inflamed and swollen and very painful from the immune system attacking the joints. RA is the same type of disease, autoimmune, as cancer. The numbers that indicate how inflamed your body is also indicate how much damage is being done to your joints. The worse the inflammation, the more damage is being done. The goal of the doctor, in treatment, is to slow the progression of the disease, or to send it into remission (which happens only about 10% of the time). The standard of care for someone with a severe case like mine is chemotherapy, which is what the doctor has prescribed. It is in very small doses (nowhere near the strength needed to treat cancer), given by self-injection at home once a week, and about six hours after the treatment you take a pill that counteracts the chemo. Basically, the process is stunting the immune system for a few hours, and then waking it back up to recover for a week.
The hopes are that the immune system stops the attack on the body. It takes some time, up to a year, to see if this will work. The process is to undergo the treatment, then begin to stop all treatments and medications and see if the disease has slowed or gone away. Everyone’s response to the medications is drastically different, so the treatment process for someone with RA is “wait and see.” If it works then we go on, if not then we try another treatment.
Please keep us in your prayers as we now seek guidance in how to proceed with treatment. My next appointment is in 6 weeks, and I plan to send another update out then (if nothing significant develops before).
Thank you for your continued prayers and support. Know that your love is felt, and you are all in our prayers as well.
Rev. Priest Matthew Jackson
Christ the Saviour Orthodox Christian Church
His Eminence continues to be energized by such visits to his flock - they help to keep him young even at 83. One can expect that the pattern of multiple visitation weekends will be duplicated in the future. Such occasions will give people more opportunities to pray and talk with their bishop and similar opportunities for His Eminence to be with those entrusted to his care and very dear to his heart.
On Saturday, December 16, His Eminence, accompanied by Mr. Milos Konjevich, DOS Treasurer, arrived at St. Raphael of Brooklyn Mission in Inverness, Florida. Priest David Balmer, a recent graduate of St. Tikhon Seminary, eagerly awaited the arrival of His Eminence. Like St. Philip’s, this too was the first Archpastoral visit of Vladika DMITRI to Inverness since the mission was founded in 2002. The gathered took advantage of the opportunity to show some good Southern hospitality. After a Molieben, lunch was served with approximately sixty people in attendance. Founding members of the St. Raphael Mission, Dolores Lichatz- Vice Warden, Nancy Kinley- Outreach and Charities, Ellen Skowronek- Treasurer and Joan Steele then presented the Archbishop with an Icon of St. Raphael.
That evening and on Sunday morning, December 17 the Archbishop and Milos continued their whirlwind tour by visiting St. Andrew Orthodox Church in New Port Richey, Florida, led by Priest. Pavel Yurin. Fr. Yurin was awarded both the skufia and kamilavka for his years of faithful service. Approximately one hundred people were at the Hierarchical Liturgy on Sunday. After the luncheon, His Eminence held a brief, informal meeting with those in attendance at which he stressed the importance of adequate clergy compensation. His Eminence has always considered this topic a priority and encourages parishes to evaluate regularly the salary package given to pastors. As proof of this, resources for clergy compensation are part of the DOS website.
(Dallas, TX) St. Philip the Apostle Mission was the first stop in His Eminence’s weekend tour of parishes around the greater Tampa, Florida area. St. Philip’s is led by Priest Joseph Ciarciaglino. Fr. Joseph and members of his flock greeted His Eminence on the afternoon of Friday, December 15. This was Vladika’s first visit to St. Philip Mission since it began only one year ago. After venerating the altar and inspecting the sanctuary the Archbishop sat down to lunch with those gathered and shared inspirational words, encouraging the faithful to continue steadfastly with their mission to spread the full Gospel of Christ to the Tampa area.
(Dallas, TX) His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI, Exarch of Mexico, announced plans today to visit the Exarchate of Mexico January 7-9, 2007. His Beatitude, Metropolitan HERMAN will accompany His Eminence to Mexico City where they will be greeted by Bishop of Mexico City and Administrator of the Exarchate of Mexico.
Metropolitan Herman, Archbishop Dmitri and Bishop Alejo will concelebrate the Divine Liturgy at La Catedral de la Ascension del Senor on Sunday, January 7. At the end of the Liturgy the Great Blessing of Water will take place.
(Jacksonville, FL) The Annual DOS Pastoral Conference will be held February 5-7 in Jacksonville, FL. St. Justin Martyr Church will be the host parish.
The Conference will start at 12:00 noon on the 5th and conclude at 12:00 noon on the 7th.
The Conference will be using two hotels. The Holiday Inn Express (about 2 miles from St. Justin's) and the La Quinta Inn (about 5 miles). Please refer to the following information when making your reservations.
The Holiday Inn Express 11262 Old St Augustine Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32257 1-(800) 315-2621 or Hotel Front Desk (904) 899-9000 RATE $79.00. CUT OFF DATE JANUARY 4, 2007.
La Quinta Inn Jacksonville Mandarian San Jose (904) 268-9999 (Group Reference Number is 101245137) 3199 Hartley Road Jacksonville, FL 32257
Phone: (904)268-9999 RATE $58.00 CUT OFF DATE JANUARY 15, 2007
For additional information, please read the Welcome Letter of St. Justin Martyr Church.
(Atlanta, GA) The Christmas Season is a special time for the clergy and faithful of St. John the Wonderworker Orthodox Church here. Led by Priest Jacob Myers, the daily work of feeding the poor is expanded to include a Christmas banquet, collecting, and distributing of toys for the less fortunate.
With the support of local businesses, including the Steak-Out Franchising and Easy Rental, this annual event continues to grow and bring the love and joy of the Nativity Season to the most vulnerable in our midst.
For more pictures and information on this wonderful effort, click on the following link to St. John the Wonderworker Orthodox Church.
Priest Christopter Foley, priest-in-charge of the fast growing Holy Cross Mission
here reports that the new mission has secured full-time use of new facilities which will greatly promote the growth of the mission.
More information and photos will be shared this week, but for a sneak preview of the new worship location, please click the above link.
The Carolinas Deanery
has created a website for deanery events.
New Reflection by Archbishop DMITRI - On Confession
The OCA has ceased printing the Desk Calendar however there is an excellent alternative being offered by the same people involved in the design and production of the former OCA desk calendar Click here for more information.
(St. Augustine, FL) Our own Fr. David Rucker, late of Nicholasville, KY and now of OCMC here in St. Augustine, is featured on the OCMC website. To read about Fr. David, and his new role at OCMC, click here.
Although working for OCMC, Fr. David is attached to St. Justin Martyr Church in Jacksonville and is still a member of the DOS.
An article in the January 11 issue of USA Today
reports on the growth of Orthodoxy in North America. As a diocese, we have seen this consistent growth for many years and explosive growth in the Carolinas, North Florida and North Texas.
It's good to read something postive in the newspapers these days. We thank God for the growth He is permitting us to steward.
(Jupiter, FL) Sunday, January 14, 2007 marked the 2nd Anniversary celebration of the St. Peter the Apostle Orthodox Mission here. The fifty people who attended the Divine Liturgy also enjoyed a buffet fellowship hour in which the mission's energies towards moving into their own facility in the near future were shared.
The mission currently holds services at the Lighthouse Elementary School in Jupiter, Florida. The faithful have done a wonderful job in creating sacred space at the school with people always commenting on how "church like" the school setting is.
For more information on St. Peter the Apostle Mission, please feel free to call (561) 575-2590.
(Dallas, TX) Archpriest Michael Oleksa will be the presenter at the 2007 DOS Pastoral Conference. The theme of this year's Conference is: The North American Saints - Their Missionary Legacy, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Father Oleksa will develop this theme with presenatations on the Foundations of Alaskan Orthodoxy, its Spiritual Foundations, Monastic and Educational missions and Orthodox Missionary Spirituality in today's context.
The Conference will also feature the annual presentation by His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI and a special feature presentation by Fr. David Rucker of OCMC.For more information, click here.
(Jacksonville, FL) St. Justin Martyr Church
here received two new bells recently to add to their existing bells. Purchased through Blagovest Bells
, the new larger bells, dedicated to Christ and St. Justin Martyr, fill out the traditional sound customary for calling the faithful to worship. The bells stand ready to welcome His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI and the clergy of the DOS at the upcoming Pastoral Conference.
The St. John of Damascus Mission Station here has a new sign. It may be a small step, but this new mission station has been making big strides in its effort to be the only Orthodox community in a population radius of over 600,000 people. "We were amazed to discover what a population base we have to draw from here in Tyler and the surrounding counties," stated Terry Cowan a convert to Orthodoxy and one of the mission founders. "A viable and growing Orthodox witness in East Texas is sorely needed."
Thanks to Dan Rudder of St. Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas and Cross Crafter
, the mission has its new sign. Together with its other communication efforts, this small but growing group of missionaries is getting the word out to others that they are here.
Currently the mission station is holding monthly Vespers and Liturgy at a chapel which they have exclusive use of. They will soon be adding reader services. The mission station recently met with DOS officials to chart its short and long term future. In the short term the community is prepared to offer a part time salary of at least $20,000 to a priest, who could relocated to Tyler, work outside the mission until such time that they can offer a full time salary with benefits. The long term looks good too with the mission ready to receive a gift of land to build a new church.
His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI is committed to Tyler as a hub of new mission development in East Texas.
For more information about the St. John of Damascus Mission in Tyler, please contact Terry Cowan at firstname.lastname@example.org
With the blessing of His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI, we are posting a link to the OCA website giving information on the job search
for positions in Syosset. Any DOS clergy interested in applying for any of these positions are asked to first seek a blessing from His Emienence. Any laity are free to apply and are encouraged to first speak with their parish priest and if they have additional questions before applying, they may contact the chancery office in Dallas.
New contact information for the Edenton Orthodox Mission
and St. John Chrysostom Mission in Columbus, GA
has been shared with the DOS and is available in the Parish Listing/Mission Station page of the DOS website.
(St Augustine, FL)
The Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) is offering several 2-4 week Mission Team opportunities this year. Mission Team members willl have the chance to share their faith with communities in need around the world. All Orthodox Christians over the age of 18 are encouraged to prayerfully consider apply for a Mission Team.
For more information, or to apply, contact Andrew Lekos at 1-877-463-6784 or by email at email@example.com
. Information and applications can also be found at the OCMC website by visiting www.ocmc.org/teams
(Dallas, TX) His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI will travel today to east Texas and visit with mission station members of St. John of Damascus in Tyler, TX. His Eminence will review the progress of the mission station and do a site inspection of the current worship facilities and the section of a 77 acre tract of land which is in the process of being gifted to the DOS for the building of a church for the mission.
Currently, the mission station is served out of St. Seraphim Cathedral with Priest John Anderson making monthly visits to serve Vespers and the Divine Liturgy. Plans are now being finalized to shift current services from Friday and Saturday to Saturday and Sunday with additional services to be added.
Tyler is in the middle of a population base of over 600,000 people with no full-time Orthodox witness. His Eminence is convinced that Tyler can serve as a hub for additional DOS missions and outreach in east Texas.
His Eminence will then return to Dallas and leave early Saturday morning for the 10 hour drive to Pharr, TX where he will make an Archpastoral visit to St. George Church. St. George's is the only Orthodox church in the Rio Grande Valley which borders Mexico.
First, a great deal of work to plant the new community. Then, the challenge of what it will take to attract a full-time priest. Next the priest arrives, fresh out of seminary, and begins his work and now the original location for the mission is too small and a larger meeting place is needed.
These are some of the steps that Priest Christopher Foley and the faithful members of Holy Cross Mission
here have accomplished for the Glory of God in less than one year. "It is amazing to see what people of faith and commitment can do," says Fr. Foley. "There does not seem to be any challenge too great. They want this mission to grow and not only be their spiritual home but be a spiritual home for all those searching for Orthodoxy."
The population movement to the Carolinas is not lost on His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI. "The missionary commitment in the Carolinas Deanery is not being overstated because the opportunities for growth are right before us," states His Eminence. "To not respond to what the Lord is giving us would not only be a lost opportunity, but a sin!"
The small but determined group of missionaries at Holy Cross Mission seized the chance to move up and occupy unused space at Christ Presbyterian Church in Greensboro. "God has blessed our new mission with a great new space for worship. We had previously been using a meeting room at a local hotel," says Fr. Christopher. "We have been in our new building now for a month and have been very busy remodeling and painting." This is mission life in the DOS.
The new Holy Cross location will allow the mission to expand its liturgical service schedule just in time for Great Lent and to accommodate their continued growth which now has topped 50 on a Sunday. It is only a matter of time before this mission will outgrow its current location and will set its sights on building their own church.
(Pharr, TX) His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI concluded at two-day trip to St. George Church here. For complete pictoral coverage of the weekend please visit the parish website of St. George Church.
(Valdosta, GA) The Orthodox Mission Station at Valdosta, GA has provided the DOS chancery new contact information. The mission station is under the supervision of Priest Theodore Pisarchuk and is serviced by Priest Sergius Clark.
The schedule for the 2007 DOS Pastoral Conference has been released by the local organizing committee of St. Justin Martyr Church here. To download a .pdf version of the schedule, click here
February 3 and 4
(Dallas, TX) Clergy from across the vast expanse of the DOS will converge on Jacksonville, FL next week for the annual Pastoral Conference hosted this year by St Justin Martyr Church in Jacksonville, FL. Archpriest Michael Oleksa from Anchorage, AK will be the main presenter on the theme of The North American Saints and Their Missionary Legacy, Past, Present, and Future. The theme is especially relevant to the clergy of the DOS who continue to labor in this missionary diocese established in 1978 and will celebrate its 30th Anniversary in 2008.
Over 40 clergy from the DOS will attend the Conference from as far west as New Mexico, to as far north and east as Richmond, VA. In addition to the clergy, a dozen matushki will attend the Conference and participate in joint and separate programs.
This annual event not only features outstanding Orthodox presenters but affords the clergy of the DOS time with Archbishop DMITRI in group sessions as well as one-on-one discussions. His Eminence, who celebrated his 83rd birthday in 2006 views such gatherings as vital to the on-going work of the diocese. “To gather with one another and be edified by presenters such as Fr. Oleksa, is not only a blessing but an opportunity take back to our respective communities a deeper appreciation of our calling as missionaries.”
A complete day-by-day summary of the Pastoral Conference will be posted on the DOS website.
We ask that you keep in your prayers all those who will be traveling to and from Jacksonville.
Nearly 50 clergy from across the DOS gathered at St Justin Martyr Church here for the annual DOS Pastoral Conference. The spirit of brotherly love and fellowship was evident as the clergy prayed, had fellowship and were greatly edified by the presentations of His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI and Archpriest Michael Oleksa of Anchorage, AK.
With the blessing of His Grace, Bishop NIKOLAI and at the invitation of His Eminence, Father Michael presented three lectures detailing Orthodox missionary history and in particular that of the Russian missionary outreach to Alaska and what that experience still teaches us today in North America.
The DOS will present Fr. Oleksa's lectures in podcast form shortly. They will also be available from the website of St. John the Wonderworker
. The DOS podcasts will be archived in the Parish Resource section of this website for current and future use by the clergy and faithful of the DOS. His Eminence recommends that we make use of these lectures so that we may have a "deeper appreciation of how the intersecting points of the Gospel and culture must be understood if we are to convert the hearts of the people in the Southland."
On behalf of His Eminence and the clergy of the DOS, we wish to thank Priest Ted Pisarchuk and the faithful of St Justin Martyr for the first-class hosting of this year's Pastoral Conference.
More reporting on the Pastoral Conference is being prepared and will be shared on the DOS website in the coming days.
(San Antonio, TX) His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI will arrive here today to begin a weekend celebration at St. Anthony Church which will include the blessing of the church's new Iconostasis. Great Vespers will be served tonight and the Divine Liturgy on Saturday and the blessing of the Iconostasis. A banquet will follow. His Eminence will again serve Liturgy on Sunday before he returns to Dallas.
(San Antonio, TX) Clergy from the greater San Antonio region and South Texas gathered at St. Anthony Orthodox Church here to greet His Eminence, DMITRI, this weekend to bless the newly installed iconostasis, icons, and liturgical appointments at Saint Anthony Church. His Eminence arrived on Friday evening for Vespers and fellowship with the parish clergy and faithful. On Saturday the assembled clergy and faithful packed St. Anthony's to capacity and heard His Eminence congratulate the parish on its beautification efforts. A celebratory banquet followed with speeches by Dr. Robert Vranes, chairman of the Icon Screen Project, Host Pastor, Very Rev. Fr. Leo Poore, and Archbishop DMITRI. The Honored Guest for the occasion was Mr. George Goutsev, iconographer, from Sofia Bulgaria.
Fr Tutko Directs Clergy Choir
Fr Tutko Directs Clergy Choir
Pastoral Question for the Archbishop
Pastoral Question for the Archbishop
(Dallas, TX) The recently concluded DOS Pastoral Conference was a spiritually uplifting event for the nearly 50 clergy from across the diocese who gathered in Jacksonville, FL. Worship, education, fellowship, and hospitality made this year's Conference memorable.
Archpriest Michael Oleska's engaging and illuminating presentations on the missionary work and lives of the Alaskan Saints helped the missionary clergy of the DOS better understand the historical and cultural imperatives of bringing the Gospel and Holy Orthodoxy to different peoples.
Fr Oleksa on Alaskan Saints
Fr Oleksa on Alaskan Saints
Fr Rucker's OCMC Presentation
Fr Rucker's OCMC Presentation
(Miami, FL) Christ the Savior Cathedral
will be the host for the 2007 DOS Assembly
. This year's gathering will kick off the 30th Year Anniversary of the DOS. The Assembly will run from July 17-19, 2007 and conclude on July 19 with the Grand Banquet.
The host hotel will be the Don Shula Hotel and Golf Resort
located at 6842 Main Street, Miami Lakes, Florida. Hotel reservation and room rate information will soon be made available with direct links from the DOS website to the hotel reservation system.
To be reprinted or read to the Faithful of the Diocese of the South on Sunday, February 18.
Archpastoral Message of His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI
The Great Fast 2007
Let us set out with joy upon the season of the Fast, as we prepare ourselves for spiritual combat
Sticheron for Forgiveness Vespers
Dearly Beloved in the Lord,
What a blessed gift is the Great Fast. What an opportunity for us to reorient our life in Christ and flee from those things that separate us from God and our neighbor. Indeed, we are called to set out with joy because it is the blessed life of Christ Himself in His Resurrected glory toward which we journey.
But before we can enter into the full joy of Pascha, we must prepare ourselves by walking the full path of the Great Fast. Contrary to a western understanding of Lent as a period of time in which we “suffer” or “deny” ourselves, when we “give something up for Lent,” the Orthodox approach to the Great Fast is a time when we add
to our regular routine and spiritual discipline. The Church adds
more services, not as a burden, but rather to give us additional opportunities to encounter Christ and our neighbor in worship. We begin with the powerful Forgiveness Vespers and the soul searching Canons of St. Andrew of Crete and the simple but profound celebrations of the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts. We also challenge ourselves to carve out more time in our daily lives to pray more so that our spiritual attention can be better trained to see the world, indeed the entire Cosmos more clearly as the place where God is at the center and we are called to be good stewards.
And so we will work diligently to purify our souls and cleanse our flesh, and fast from food and abstain from every passion.
Our fast is not an end unto itself, but a means for us to strip away our dependence on “this world” and become more closely dependent on God. To empty ourselves so that we may permit God to fill us with Himself.
At the center of the Great Fast is love. The highest of the virtues, it is the love of God that we will strive to acquire - Rejoicing in the virtues of the Spirit, may we persevere with love.
Can any of us say that we love God enough or our neighbor? Can any of us say that we are satisfied with our life in Christ? Can any of us say that we have reached perfection? No, we all have many miles still to travel on this journey and the Church, in Her wisdom, and by God's Grace, has given each of us another year, another chance, to enter this season of joy, the “Bright Sadness” as Fr. Alexander Schmemann aptly called it.
We begin together by asking each other for forgiveness in the sure knowledge that if we forgive ourselves and each other and truly confess and repent of our sins, God forgives us also. We literally face each other, we look each other in the eye, and we challenge ourselves to consign to oblivion anything that divides us, personally and communally. The power to forgive is truly divine, and God has given that power to us. Let us freely choose to use this gift now and forever.
Please forgive me for all those things I have done to offend you or in my weakness not to have done for your spiritual welfare. I ask for your prayers.
With love in Christ,+DMITRI
Archbishop of Dallas and The South
We have added a link to the DOS Woman's Monastery of Sts Mary and Martha,
(Dallas, TX) Hundreds of Cathedral faithful gathered here this evening for Vespers and the Rite of Forgiveness to begin the Great Fast.
His Eminence led the faithful in asking forgiveness of them for any sins of omission or commission he committed this past year. In so doing, he also exhorted the members of the Cathedral and by extension the entire flock of the DOS to seek forgiveness and accept the forgiveness of others in the sure knowledge that if forgive one another, God will also forgive us.
The solemn Rite of Forgiveness in which each prostrated before the other and with the words "I forgive and God forgives" met with tears and embraces while the Cathedral choir sang the joyous Paschal Canon.
The same Rite was repeated in parish after parish across the DOS today and we now enter into the "Bright Sadness" of the Great Fast.
here has a new webpage which has been linked to the DOS Parish Listing page under Mission Stations. We invite you to visit their webpage and encourage you to contact them with any questions.
New photos have arrived from Fr. John Parker of Holy Ascension Church in Mt Pleasant, SC. Click here to view them
The St. John Chrysostom Mission
here has a new website. For more information about the mission please contact Joseph Rice - Mission Coordinator via the mission website or by calling 706-332-4246 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Priest Marcus Burch, rector of St. John of the Ladder Church here is featured in a newpaper article in the Greenville News newspaper
. Fr. Marcus in addition to his pastoral duties at St. John is also the Dean of the fast-growing Carolinas Deanery.
(Atlanta, GA) St. John the Wonderworker
and St. Mary of Egypt
Churches will host His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI here this weekend. The Archbishop will ordain two men to the Diaconate, Subdeacon Philip Kontos, a student at St. Tikhon Seminary and former St Tikhon student, Subdeacon Basil Henry. In addition to the ordinations, His Eminence will tonsure several readers. Subdeacon Henry after his ordination will be attached to St. Mary of Egypt Church in Norcross, GA. Subdeacon Philip after his ordination will return to St. Tikhon's to complete his theological studies.
(Denison, TX) The Royal Priesthood as Lived by Women will be the theme for a spiritual retreat for women Saturday, March 10 at St. Paul Church in Denison, TX. The retreat master will be Mat. Anna Hipsh presenting on "What Does It Mean to Be a Woman in the Orthodox Tradition?" and "How is Spiritual Warfare Fought from the Front Lines of the Home and Community?"
The Retreat Schedule
Saturday, March 10
10a-Noon Above Listed Topics led by M.Anna
Noon-1:30p Lenten Luncheon
1:30p-? Lenten Questions and Answers
Vespers to follow
If you would like to arrive on Friday, March 9, the Presanctified Liturgy will be celebrated at St. Paul's and accomodations have been reserved at Lake Texoma. The room rate is $50 single or $25 double. These are cabins which sleep 8-16.
For more information, please contact M. Anna at 214-783-7264 and leave a message with your contact information.
(Atlanta, GA) His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI celebrated the Divine Liturgy here on Saturday. For a complete photo essay of the visit, click here.
(Dallas, TX) In preparation for the spring session of the Holy Synod of Bishops, His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI requested information from the clergy of the DOS related to the number of catechumens that will be received into the Church at Pascha. With about 50% of the parishes reporting, a significant trend is now apparent.
At the current count, 142 adults and children will be joined to the Body of Christ and the Diocese of the South at Pascha. This number does not reflect the total number of catechumens in the DOS. “Our total number of catechumens at St. Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas is 30 of which 11 will be ready to be received on Pascha” reports Priest John Anderson, Associate Pastor here. Priest Marcus Burch, dean of the Carolinas Deanery and rector of St. John of the Ladder Church in Greenville, SC will receive 17 catechumens in his parish at Pascha.
“These numbers reconfirm the need for us to start new missions and bring the best clergy we can to the DOS,” remarked Archbishop DMITRI. “I am sure that when the total number of those to be received at Pascha is tallied, it will be even more significant.”
His Eminence went on to comment that we need to be looking into the not-too-distant future and prepare for the next phase in the history of the DOS. “Being faithful to the missionary growth of the Church today means that the next chapter in the history of this Diocese can be built on a more secure and fruitful foundation." His Eminence went on to say that "we must expect even more will be asked of us by the Lord, clergy and laity, in the years ahead. I am sure that with God's help we will be equal to the task."
We ask that you fervently pray for all these catechumens at every Divine Liturgy and for missionary growth of the DOS.
(Venice, FL) Archpriest Sergei Glagolev was the guest of Holy Spirit Church here on March 3-4 where he led a retreat on Orthodox Spirituality. Over 50 faithful attended the retreat on Saturday in which Fr. Sergei impressed upon the gathered to see their life in Christ not simply as religion but as the way of life that is freely given to us by Christ.
The weekend included the retreat, followed by Great Vespers and the Sunday Divine Liturgy where Fr. Glagolev preached the sermon in front of the largest number of faithful in the history of Holy Spirit Church. A overflow crowd of 100 packed the church here. Fr Sergei and Matushka Gerry were welcomed by Protopresbyster Rodion Kondratick and Matushka Bette who thanked the Glagolevs for their faithful service to the Orthodox Church in America for over 40 years. He went on to thank the faithful of Holy Spirit for their participation in the weekend event.
Holy Spirit here has seen dramatic growth in the past several months with average Sunday attendance jumping from 20 to 90+. His Eminence recently stated that the growth in Venice confirms his long-standing belief that Venice and the entire west coast of Florida is ripe for growth and rebirth.
(Mt Pleasant, SC) What does a mission community do when in the midst of their enthusiastic building project they are faced with an additional $130,000 in building costs? They pray for a miracle - and that is exactly what recently happened to Holy Ascension Mission here when the spike in the cost of copper caught the community by surprise and seemingly dashed their hopes for a copper dome and roof on their new church.
"The original cost for our copper dome and roof was budgeted at $85,000 and we felt confident that this was a realistic amount - that is until the cost of copper went through the roof" recounts Fr. John Parker. "We had all but abandoned the idea of using copper thinking we'd go for a painted standing seam metal roof." But then came the miracle.
"One day, it was told to me," recounts Fr. John, "a roofer was driving through our neighborhoood (where he happended to be working) and noticed our construction site and the rendering of the church. He was a roofer from North Carolina doing a job in our area. After looking over the rendering and the on-going construction, he sought out our contractor and told him, 'I want to put the roof and dome on this beautiful church'"
It turns out that not only was this man a roofer, he was a copper roofer with a portfolio of work including banks and other commerical buildings in North and South Carolina. But this is where the story gets even more miraculous - "We were all glad to know that this man was interested in us and our job, but we also knew that with the cost of copper no roofer was going to be able to purchase the copper and do the job for a price we could afford." As it turned out, this man and his father, foreseeing the rise in copper prices a couple of years ago, bought up as much copper as they could and stockpiled it before the prices skyrocketed.
As a result, with the reduced cost of materials from pre-inflated prices and willing to pass that savings on to the church, a job that was going to cost the mission at least $215,000, which they could not afford, would now cost the mission $135,000 which they could afford!
"We see this event as one more gift from God, because of all the roofers in the world, and all those who do copper roofing, the Lord sent us this roofer" Fr Parker concluded. "And, in the final analysis, our community discovered that this roofer was not just a roofer, but an artisan! Praise be to God."
(Dallas, TX) Two more parishes reported the number of catechumens being readied for repection into the Orthodox Church at Pascha raising the total number to 154 in the DOS. We encourage the remaining parishes who have not yet shared their catechumen reception numbers with us to do so. Please send your figures to www.webmasterdosoca.org
(Atlanta, GA) A favorite son of the St Mary of Egypt Church here returned to his home parish to be ordained to the Holy Diaconate at the hands of His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI on Sunday, February 26.
A senior at St. Tikhon's Seminary, Deacon Philip will graduate in May upon the successful completion of his graduate studies.
Many Years to the servant of God, the Deacon Philip.
(Dallas, TX) Please be reminded that Daylight Saving Time starts three weeks eariler now with the passage of a bill last year by Congress. It will also last longer, until the first week of November. So set those clocks an hour ahead before retiring on Saturday evening.
(Dallas, TX) His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI will leave for Syosset on Monday afternoon for the start of the Spring session of the Holy Synod meeting. The bi-annual full meeting of the hierarchs of The Orthodox Church in America begins on Tuesday morning and concludes on Thursday.
The Spring session will elect a new bishop for the Diocese of the West. His Grace, Bishop Benjamin is expected to be confirmed by the Holy Synod as the new ruling hierarch for the DOW.
Each Spring, diocesan reports are shared with the other hierarchs. Among other items, His Eminence will share with his brother bishops that 154 catechumens will be received into the Orthodox church in parishes and missions in the DOS at Pascha. Additionally, His Eminence will again inform the Holy Synod of his ongoing efforts to have an auxiliary bishop named for the DOS.
His Eminence has proposed to the Holy Synod a list of clergy of the DOS who are deserving of various clergy awards. These awards will be announced at the conclusion of the meeting.
The DOS website will keep you up-to-date on the Holy Synod meeting with items affecting the life and mission of our diocese.
(Mt Pleasant, SC)
You're invited to view the latest construction update
from Holy Ascension in Mt Pleasant, SC.
(Dallas, TX) His Eminence will head to New York today for the start of the Spring session of the Holy Synod of Bishops on Tuesday. Archpriest Joseph Fester will travel with His Emiennce to New York and then will go to St. Tikhon's Seminary to meet with Archpriest Michael Dahulich on the continuing progress for a Dallas extension campus for St. Tikhon's. Father Fester will also meet with seminary students interested in knowing more about the DOS. His Eminence will return to Dallas on Thursday evening.
The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America elected His Grace, The Right Reverend BENJAMIN as the ruling hierarch for the Diocese of the West here yesterday. His Grace was the auxiliary Bishop under now retired Bishop Tikhon of the West. For more coverage, please go to the DOW website
(Syosset, NY) Father Deacon Kevin Smith, son of Archpriest Peter and Matushka Terry Smith of St Mary of Egypt Church in Atlanta, led the SVS choir that sang at this morning's Presanctified Liturgy here. Deacon Kevin teaches choir music at St Vladimir's Seminary. After the Liturgy, Deacon Kevin visited with Archbishop DMITRI and shared with him the work he is doing at the seminary. A favorite son of the DOS, Deacon Kevin received his B.A. in French Language and Literature from the University of South Carolina, Columbia in 1996; cum laude, his M.Div. and M.A. in Liturgical Music at St.Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in 2002; magna cum laude, and a M.Mus. in Choral Conducting from Mannes College of Music at New School University, New York in 2005.
(Syosset, NY) His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI is pleased to announce the following clergy of the Diocese of the South have been granted Synodal Awards for their faithful service to The Orthodox Church in America. These awards are granted in accord and by Holy Synod Resolution for years of service and/or in recognition of exceptional service to The Orthodox Church in America:
Archpriest Mark Stevens
Archpriest Joseph Fester
Hieromonk James (Bohlman)
Priest Marcus Burch
Priest John Filipovich
Priest G. Thomas Moore
Priest Pavel Yurin
Archpriest Theodore Pisarchuk
Axios! Axios! Axios!
Priest Andrew Diehl, priest-in-charge of Holy Resurrection Mission here was the subject of a news report in the Aiken Standard newspaper.
The Holy Resurrection mission is a planned offshoot of Holy Apostles Mission in Columbia, SC. The new mission is attracting local interest since its planting and since Fr Andrew and his family moved to Aiken several months ago.
Holy Resurrection is another example of the missionary commitment of the DOS and bringing the fulness of the Gospel to the people of the South.
For more information on Holy Resurrectiom Mission, please visit their website
or contact Fr. Andrew Diehl at (803) 642-8221
(Baton Rouge, LA)
Priest Sergius Clark, Associate Priest at St Justin Martyr Church in Jacksonville, FL will lead services here from Holy Thursday through Pascha. Father Clark is also assisting at the mission station in Valdosta, GA
. where he conducts services on a monthly basis.
Mark Christian, the local contact person for the mission, who is also a former Episcopal priest, was recently admitted to the OCA Late Vocation Program.
For more information on the mission, or for additional Holy Week and Pascha services, please refer to the St Matthew the Apostle website.
(Tyler, TX) St John of Damascus Mission here celebrated Lazarus Saturday Divine Liturgy with a record 34 faithful in attendance. The Great Vespers on Friday and the Liturgy today was led by Priest John Anderson and Deacon Gregory Norris from St Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas. The rapid growth through outreach to non-Orthodox is being born out with 5 “members” of the mission being received into Orthodoxy on Holy Saturday. “There is no doubt that this mission is poised for explosive growth,” stated Fr Anderson. “They are doing everything the right way and for the right reasons.”
In addition to full use of a local chapel which they have converted into acceptable Orthodox worship space, the mission already has donated land for the building of a permanent church. Another indication of the mission's development is their financial commitment. “Our collection today was nearly $2,000 and we established our building fund with a $5,000 initial deposit,” reports Terry Cowan, mission member.” “We are getting ready for our first resident priest, and when he arrives, we know the mission will really take off.” As further proof of the mission's commitment, they have already gone on record to offer a $22,000 salary for their first resident priest. "This is only a part-time salary for now, but we know we can offer more as we grow" says Mr Cowan. After today's attendance and collection that appears to be safe statement!
Tyler, TX is 2 hours east of Dallas and is at the center of several east Texas counties with a total population of over 600,000 people with St John's as the only Orthodox community.
Most parishioners would have given up after setbacks and delays and bank turndowns, but not the faithful of St Mark's here.
After each "No" came a "Yes, we can" response. And that faithful determination is now paying off.
Work has finally started on the construction of a new temple and the sight of progress is an answer to many prayers. We look forward to sharing another DOS Building Project with you and ask that you keep the members of St. Mark's in your prayers as they answer they answer the missionary call of the Church.
Priest Stephen Freeman, rector of St Anne Church
in Knoxville/Oak Ridge, TN and Dean of the DOS Appalachian Deanery will participate in a new podcast ministry under the aegis of the Orthodox Christian Network (OCN). A SCOBA blessed agency, OCN is headed by Rev. Dr. Christopher Metropulos.
Father Stephen's invitation to participate comes from his very successful Blog
which has had over 120,000 views in about 5 months, averaging about 1000 views a day. "It has been an opportunity to share the faith and occasioned many conversations with potential converts as well as those who are only now discovering the existence of the Orthodox faith" shares Fr. Freeman.
The new podcast ministry called The Ark will also feature other OCA contributors including Fr John Behr of SVS and Fr Thomas Hopko, SVS Dean Emeritus.
For more information on OCN and The Ark, click here
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
Today, in the day of Palms we stand in awe and amazement before what is happening in a way in which the Jews of Jerusalem could not meet Christ because they met Him imagining that He was the glorious king who would now take over all power, conquer and reject the heathen, the Romans who were occupying their country, that He would re-establish a kingdom, an earthly kingdom of Israel. We know that He had not come for that, He had come to establish a Kingdom that will have no end, a Kingdom of eternity, and the Kingdom that was not open only to one nation but was open to all nations, and the Kingdom that was to be founded on the life and on the death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God become the Son of man.
And Holy Week is from one end to another a time of tragic confusion. The Jews meet Christ at the gates of Jerusalem because they expect of Him a triumphant military leader, and He comes to serve, to wash the feet of His disciples, to give His life for the people but not to conquer by force, by power. And the same people who meet Him shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” in a few days will shout, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” because He has betrayed their expectations. They expected an earthly victory and what they see is a defeated king. They hate Him for the disappointment of all their hopes.
And this is not so alien to us in our days. How many are those people who have turn away in hatred from Christ because He has disappointed one hope or another. I remember a woman who had been a believer for all her life and whose grandson died, a little boy, and she said to me, “I don’t believe in God anymore. How could He take my grandson?” And I said to her, “But you believed in God while thousands and thousands and millions of people died.” And she looked at me and said, “Yes, but what did that do to me? I didn’t care, they were not my children.” This is something that happens to us in a small degree so often that we waver in our faith and in our faithfulness to God when something which we expect Him to do for us is not done, when He is not an obedient servant, when we proclaim our will, He does not say, “Amen,” and does not do it. So it is not so alien that we are from those who met Christ at the gates of Jerusalem and then turned away from Him.
But we are entering now in Holy Week. How can we face the events? I think we must enter into Holy Week not as observers, not reading the passages of the Gospel which are relevant, we must enter into Holy Week as though we were participants of the events, indeed read of them but then mix in the crowd that surrounds Christ and ask ourselves, Who am I in this crowd? Am I one of those who said, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’? And am I now on the fringe of saying, ‘Crucify him’? Am I one of the disciples who were faithful until the moments of ultimate danger came upon them? You remember that in the Garden of Gethsemane three disciples had been singled out for Christ to support Him at the hour of His supreme agony, and they did not, they were tired, they were desponded and they fell asleep. Three times He came to them for support, three times they were away from Him.
We do not meet Christ in the same circumstances but we meet so many people who are in agony, not only dying physically, and that also happens to our friends, our relatives, people around us, but are in agony of terror one way or another. Are we there awake, alive, attentive to them, ready to help them out, and if we can’t help, to be with them, to stand by them or do we fall asleep, that is, contract out, turn away, leave them in their agony, their fear, their misery. And again I am not speaking of Judas because no-one of us is aware of betraying Christ in such a way, but don’t we betray Christ when we turn away from all His commandments? When He says, “I give you an example for you to follow,” and we shake our heads and say, “No, I will simply follow the devices of my own heart.” But think of Peter,
apparently the strongest, the one who spoke time and again in the name of others, when it came to risking his life, not his life, to be rejected simply, because no-one was about to kill him, he denied Christ three times.
What do we do when we are challenged in the same way, when we are in danger of being mocked and ridiculed and put aside by our friends or our acquaintances who shrug their shoulders and say, “A Christian? And you believe in that? And you believe that Christ was God, and you believe in His Gospel, and you are on His side?” How often? O, we don’t say, “No, we are not,” but do we say, “Yes, it is my glory, and if you want to crucify Him, if you want to reject Him, reject me too because I choose to stand by Him, I am His disciple, even if I am to be rejected, even if you don’t let me into your house anymore.”
And think of the crowd on Calvary. There were people who had been instrumental in His condemnation, they mocked Him, they had won their victory, so they thought at least. And then there were the soldiers, the soldiers who crucified Him, they had crucified innumerable other people, they were doing their job. It didn’t matter to them whom they crucified. And yet Christ prayed for them, “Forgive them, Father, they don’t know what they are doing.” We are not being crucified physically, but do we say, “Forgive, Father, those who offend us, who humiliate us, who reject us, those who kill our joy and darken our life in us.” Do we do that? No, we don’t. So we must recognise ourselves in them also.
And then there was a crowd of people who had poured out to the city to see a man die, the fierce curiosity that pushes so many of us to be curious when suffering, agony comes upon people. You will say, it doesn’t happen? Ask yourself how you look at television and how eagerly, hungrily you look at the horrors that befall Somalia, the Sudan, Bosnia and every other country. Is it with a broken heart? Is it that you can not endure the horror and turn in prayer to God and then give, give, give generously all you can give for hunger and misery to be alleviated? Is it? No, we are the same people who came out on Calvary to see a man die. Curiosity, interest? Yes, alas.
And then there were those who had come with the hope that He will die because if He died on the cross, then they were free from this terrifying, horrible message He had brought that we must love one another to the point of being ready to die for each other. That message of the crucified, sacrificial love could be rejected once and for all if He who preached it, died, and it was proved that He was a false prophet, a liar.
And then there were those who had come in the hope that He will come down from the cross, and then they could be believers without any risk, they would have joint the victorious party. Aren’t we like that so often?
And then there is a point to which we hardly should dare turn our eyes – the Mother of the Incarnate Son of God, the Mother of Jesus silent,offering His death for the salvation of mankind, silent and dying with Him hour after hour; and the disciple who knew in a youthful way how to love his master, standing by in horror, seeing his Master die and the Mother in agony. Are we like this when we read the Gospel, are we like this when we see the agony of men around us?
Let us therefore enter in this Holy Week in order not to be observers of what happened then, let us enter into it mixed with the crowd and at every step ask ourselves, who am I in this crowd? Am I the Mother? Am I the disciple? Am I one of the crucifiers? And so forth. And then we will be able to meet the day of the Resurrection together with those to whom it was life and resurrection indeed, when despair had gone, new hope had come, God had conquered. Amen.
The Services of Holy Friday
The services of Passion Week reach their climax on Holy Friday, when the faithful are called to assemble at three points. The first time calls us to the Morning Service, with its twelve Passion Gospels, often held on Holy Thursday evening, since at 1:00 AM -- the time prescribed by the Typikon -- we will probably still be ‘dragged down by sleep'. We come together a second time at midmorning to read the Royal Hours, so called because (as at Nativity and Theophany) the Roman Basileus would serve as psalmreader, or at least be present. This practice was often observed by orthodox monarchs in other countries long after the fall of the Roman Empire in 1453.
Now there is no king but One Whose ‘reign is not of this world' (JN 18:33-38). So, at the ‘third hour', about nine in the morning, at the same time (MK 15:25) as Jesus was lifted up on the cross, we begin to read the Royal Hours with a very different royalty in mind as we contemplate the King of Glory nailed to the tree. On this most somber day of the liturgical year, the holy Church directs our attention to the awful and awesome sufferings which the immortal Son of God endured for our sake.
‘The One Who is without passions now comes to His voluntary passion' (Triodion). ‘When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to Myself' (JN 12:32). ‘Lifting up' was a Roman euphemism for crucifixion, a hideous form of torture to death, and humiliation even after death, from which they spared their own citizens, but savagely inflicted on their unruly slaves and rebellious subject peoples.
This is why (according to ancient tradition) St Peter was crucified, but St Paul beheaded (ACTS 22:22-29). ‘Today, the One Who suspended the heavens is suspended between Heaven and Earth' (Triodion). What can we say as we behold this incredible sight? The Son of God is hanged, naked and tortured on a shameful gibbet; He endures it, although the very elements protest (MT 27:45, 51-52; MK 15:33; LK 23:44-45).
In His awesome suffering, He speaks but a very few words. He has already said everything He had to say; now He fulfills the destiny He accepted when He accepted a human body and soul for our sake (JN 18:37).When Jesus says ‘It is finished.' (JN 19:30), He means that the redemption of the human race has been accomplished, and that His work is over. His obedience, even to the point of death on the cross (PHLP 2:7-8), annulled the effects of Adam's -- and our own -- disobedience, if only we will claim that annulment.
No human being could perfectly fulfill the laws of the Old Covenant, which the rabbis say were imposed on Israel as a result of their sin of idolatry at Sinai (EX 32), and which were regarded as a curse from which Christ ransomed us (GAL 3:13), since only H e, by His perfect obedience as the Son of God and Son of Man in one person, could observe the Old Law perfectly (MT 5:17).
The Old Law is finished, and we are now free to become by grace what Christ is by nature: by His death and resurrection, the only Son of God made it possible for us to become adopted children of God, and His royal heirs along with Christ (ROM 1:17). Naturally, this is cause for our great joy.
But, at the same time, we must also accuse ourselves of the sins which made it necessary for so great a Savior to save us, and we would be much worse off for ignoring and despising the Savior than if He had never come at all (HEB 2:1-3).
Oh, how Christ loves us! What can we do to return such great love? He tells us: ‘If you love Me, you will obey My commandments' (JN 14:15). The last service on Holy Friday is actually the first service of Holy Saturday. This is the Evening Service, sometimes called the ‘Un-nailing' or ‘The Descent from the Cross', not only because of the late afternoon time of this service in our commemoration of the Lord's death and burial, but also because, in many places, there is a liturgical reenactment of the event: the image of the dead Christ is removed from the cross, and the shroud depicting His body in repose is solemnly brought out for veneration and placed in the ‘tomb' at the center of the nave. As affecting as these rites are, we would do well to note that they are of relatively recent origin, as is the outdoor procession with the shroud, certainly not more than two centuries or so in general usage.
This is important as a brake on our native conservatism in liturgical practice: what we seek to conserve may not be all that old -- it's just that we're used to it, and we might want to consider restoring ancient practices or developing new ones even now.
There is an ancient tradition describing St James, the Brother of God, serving the Divine Liturgy on a table covered with the original shroud of Christ, and this may be the origin of the image usually found on the _antimension_, not to mention the _epitaphion_ itself, and possibly even the ‘Image Not Made by Hands'; the ‘Holy Shroud' still preserved at Torino presents a prototype of all of these: the full-length figure of a crucified man reclining in death, hands crossed over the abdomen.
Notice that the right hand is placed over the left, the right hand which we venerate with our kisses.
This is just the opposite of how we place our hands on our breasts as we approach the Holy Cup, when we place the right hand over the heart and the left hand over the right.
There is a very loud silence, a palpable emptiness, which palls the holy Church on the evening of Holy Friday. As we struggle to comprehend the horror of the suffering and death of the very Son of God, each of us stands ashamed and wonders: Since He was crucified for me, since my sins went far beyond my poor ability to atone for them, it is I who crucified Christ.
More than Judas, more than the Jews, more than the Romans, I crucified Christ. How can I escape the wrath of God for putting His Son to death like this? How can creation itself endure it? Even ‘the sun goes dark, unable to bear the sight of God outraged' (Triodion). But it is the very death of Christ which ‘tramples Death', since He rises from the dead and liberates us from death as well, allowing us to escape the ultimate punishment we deserve for our sins.
This is why we describe God's mercy as ‘great'; this is the very definition of ‘grace'. This is the divine forgiveness and reconciliation with God for which we hope and pray, and which is ours for the asking if only we will return His love by accepting the salvation He offers us uniquely through His Son, our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ. ‘We adore Your passion, O Christ! Also show us Your holy resurrection!' (Triodion).
(Dallas, TX) Here at St Seraphim Cathedral and across the DOS over 160 people were received into the Orthodox Church today at Holy Saturday services. For many, nearly a year-long preparation for reception into the Faith culminated during the Vesperal Liturgy of St Basil the Great marking their entrance into Holy Orthodoxy. The scene at St Seraphim's was repeated throughout the DOS from Virginia to New Mexico from Florida to Oklahoma.
His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI participated in today's receptions by being a sponsor for Felipe Reyes. No other time of year more typifies the missionary reality of the DOS than today as the faithful of the diocese sink deep roots into this land and prepare to pass on the Faith to the next generation.
THIS IS THE DAY WHICH THE LORD HAS MADE. LET US REJOICE AND BE GLAD IN IT.
To the Reverend Clergy, Monastics and Faithful of the Diocese of the South:
Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!
Asking the Lord to richly bless you in this season of joy and for your continued peace, health and furtherance in all good things.
In the Risen Lord,
Archbishop of Dallas and the South
Parish weblinks for Pascha pictures:St Philip the Apostle Orthodox Mission, Tampa, FLSt Cyprian of Carthage Church, Richmond, VASt John the Wonderworker, Atlanta, GASt Stephen the Protomartyr, Orlando, FLSt Mary Mission, Rincon, GAHoly Resurrection Church, Clinton, MSSt Paul the Apostle Mission, Denison, TXChrist the Savior Mission, McComb, MS
St Cyril of Jerusalem Mission, The Woodlands/Houston, TXSt Michael the Archangel Mission, Humble/Houston, TXSt George the Great Martyr Church, Pharr, TXSt Matthew the Apostle Mission Station, Baton Rouge, LA
Additional Paschal pictures from St Seraphim Cathedral
courtesy of Crosscrafter.com
Christ is Risen! He Is Risen Indeed!
In the next few days we will be posting links to various DOS parish websites so that you may view their celebration of Pascha. The slideshow are photos from St Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas on Pascha night.
(Plano, TX) St Sava Orthodox Church
here announced today that it is in contract for 3 acres of prime land
in nearby Allen, TX about one mile north of their current location.
In announcing the contract, Priest Seraphim Hipsh stated:Christ is Risen!Well, we have a lot of reasons to rejoice... we have a contract on the Land... signed, sealed and delivered. We are now on the road to purchase three acres at $500K....Thanks be to God! This is a milestone for St Sava Orthodox Church! By God's Grace, we are moving forward. It is great to be laboring in the Lord's vineyard with you all.In the Risen Christ,Fr. Seraphim
We too rejoice with the clergy and faithful in Plano as they continue to answer the call of the Lord to go forth and baptize all nations in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
We look forward to keeping you informed as another community in the Diocese of the South embarks on its building program for the Glory of God!
The Orthodox mission station here celebrated a milestone in its short history with its first baptism on Sunday. Priest Sergius Clark from St Justin Martyr Church in Jacksonville, FL has been making regular visits to Valdosta tending to the spiritual needs of the faithful.
On Sunday, May 6, Andrew Smith was baptized into Christ and became the newest member of the mission. Andrew's parents, Ken and Lisa Smith are seen in the slideshow photos
of the baptism along with his Godparents, Steve and Dawn Johnson. We welcome Andrew into the Body of Christ and the DOS. God Grant You Many Years!
(Greenville, SC) His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI will spend the weekend in the greater Greenville area. On Friday evening, the Archbishop will visit St Timothy Church in nearby Toccoa, GA. On Saturday morning a Service of Thanksgiving will be celebrated at St John of the Ladder Church followed by a Carolinas Deanery meeting. On Saturday night Great Vespers will be served and on Sunday the Divine Liturgy. His Eminence will return to Dallas on Sunday evening. A photo essay of the trip will be posted next week.
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
SUNDAY OF THE MAN BORN BLIND
14 May 1972
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
At the end of today's reading, words stand that we pass by very often. The blind man says to Christ, "And who is the Son of God?" and Christ answers, "You have seen Him and He is speaking to you".
For us, the first words are so natural; the first event of our life, the first event of a meeting is that we see a person, but what was this wonder of this man who had never seen anything in the world and who, touched by the life-giving hand of Christ, of a sudden saw! And the first person he saw was his Lord and his God, Christ, the Son of Man.
I remember a Romanian writer telling us in his biography what definitive, what profound impression the face of the first man he remembers made. He remembers himself as a child, and over him - the inexpressibly beautiful face of his father who was a priest, looking at him, with all human love, with all the tenderness, and all the depth of a human gaze. And he says that this was a first vision for him in the icon which a human face can be when it is lit from inside by love and by understanding, by depth and by eternity, a vision of God. Here this man saw God in the features of Him who was God and who had become the Son of Man.
I would like to attract your attention also to something different. On another occasion we read the story of a paralytic healed by Christ; and the Church, singing the praises of God on that occasion says, "As this man found no one to show mercy on him, the Son of Mary, God Himself, stooped down and met his need". Because this man had not found another man to show mercy, to show compassion, to show concern, God has come down to him. Now we live in another time, we live in the time with God truly having become man in our midst, and more than this: He has made us to be living members of His body, an incarnate, concrete presence of His Incarnation, the temples of the Spirit, the place of the Presence. Now any man who is in need should at the same time find in each of us a man stirred to compassion, taught mercy and understanding by God become Man, and at the same time, simultaneously, meeting with us, he should be able to see the love of God in our eyes and to perceive the active, imaginative, creative action of divine charity in our words and in our deeds.
Since Christ has come into the world, the time of man has come; but not of man as severed from God, separated from Him, alien to Him, but a wonderful time when in man, in those who have discovered Christ, who have believed in Him, who have become one with Him - those men to whom God has entrusted the care of His world - people can both receive divine and human mercy and see human compassion, human love, human joy.
Is not this a great call, is not that something which should make us capable of great things? The time of God and the time of man is one, not only in the incarnate Son of God, but in this mysterious incarnate presence which each of us represents, the presence of God in the flesh, in human compassion, in human love, and this is an earnest claim and a challenge which the Gospel presents us with. Are we to one another and to those further afield that kind of humanity? New humanity, new creatures, new men with the newness of a renewed life, the life of God. This is what we are called to be.
Let us then reflect on it, make a decision, make a move and become an icon, a vision of God, not only in the shining of love in our eyes, not only in the words we speak, but also in every action and deed, so that the time of man should have become the day of the Son of Man, the day of the Lord. Amen.
CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!
Arrival in Greenville and Trip To Toccoa, GA - 05/11/07
After leaving Dallas on Friday morning, His Eminence
arrived in Greenville, SC and was greeted by the local clergy. After
resting for a couple of hours, Archbishop Dmitri traveled to Toccoa, GA
to visit St Timothy Mission. The mission has been served by Priest
Jacob Kulp who recently returned to active ministry. A Service of
Thanksgiving was celebrated followed by an evening of discussion and
Archbishop DMITRI Meets with Local Carolinas Clergy - 05/12/07
Saturday morning began with a Service of Thanksgiving at
St John of the Ladder Church in Greenville and a presentation by His
Eminence. The rest of the morning was spend with the Carolinas Deanery
clergy updating Archbishop Dmitri on the spiritual life of their
respective communities. The day concluded with Great Vespers being
Archbishop DMITRI Celebrates Liturgy in Greenville, SC - 05/13/07
The Divine Liturgy at St John's was celebrated by His
Eminence and assisted by Priest Marcus Burch, dean of the Carolinas
Deanery and his assistant, Priest Nikolai Miletkov. Archbishop Dmitri
awarded Father Marcus with the gold cross at the Liturgy. The day
concluded with a fellowship meal before His Eminence returned to Dallas.
After several months of intense negotiations and with little more than two weeks to raise $500,000 St Sava Church
here closed today on the acquisition of 7.3 acres of prime land. The selling price was $650,000. “It is only through the intercessions of the Mother of God that we were able to purchase this land for the Glory of God” stated Priest Seraphim Hipsh, rector of St. Sava's.
Plano is one of the fastest growing cities north of Dallas and has no Orthodox presence except for St. Sava's. Although the community has been in Plano since 1990, it has only had a full-time resident priest in the last three years. In those three years the community has moved from less than adequate worship facilities into larger rented worship and fellowship space off of a major north south highway linking Dallas and north Texas. “The search for property with the goal of bulding permanent facilities was a natural outgrowth of a great deal of prayer by the faithful and then the resolve to answer the call to plant a spiritual center and home in the greater Plano area” continues Father Seraphim. “Whatever we have achieved so far is only because we have opened ourselves to God's direction.”
The 7+ acre site is located on the north corner of Chaparral Road and the west corner S. Jupiter Road in Allen, TX,
just north of the Plano border. There is currently a temporary manufactured structure on the land with parking that houses a Baptist Church.
St. Sava's will continue to worship in their rented facilities
for the next two years as they now turn their sights on the construction of a church and educational and fellowship complex.
The first Divine Liturgy on the new property will be on Holy Spirit Day, weather permitting.
The exterior is nondescript, but the interior of the small building on Hackberry Lane offers a feast for the eyes and soul.
Icons fill nearly every inch of the yellow-painted cement brick walls. Just inside the entrance, flags from Greece, Romania, Russia and the United States hang side by side. Barely an inch of space isn’t covered with a religious or cultural item.
For 18 years, this building, just south of the intersection of Paul Bryant Drive, has been home to the St. Gregory the Theologian Mission,
the sole Orthodox Christian church in West Alabama. By June 1, all the decorations will be packed up and stored -- the church is being evicted to make room for new condominiums. The congregation of about 40 people rented rather than owned the space.
“It’s very difficult," said the Rev. Demetrius Edwards, who has served the parish for two decades. “A lot of tears have already been shed."
The final service in the building will be May 27. Following the two-hour worship, the congregation plans to box up the icons and disassemble the baptismal, iconostasis and altar. While tradition maintains that Sunday should be a day of rest, Edwards said the 27th would be an exception to allow for the church’s valuables to be packed with care.
As a small congregation that reaches out to college students -- especially international students at the University of Alabama -- St. Gregory does not have a lot of money to purchase another building or land. And Edwards said having had a “generous" landlord, the church can’t afford space at the market rate in downtown Tuscaloosa.
“Being small, it’s very difficult to raise a lot of money. But with God’s blessing, people are stepping up to help with the financing," Edwards said, adding that the diocese of the South for the Orthodox Churches in America is willing to guarantee any loan. “So maybe this has been very good for us, because the people are stepping up to up their pledges and tithing …
“We do want something of our own."
The church is looking elsewhere and will most likely end up outside the city limits. Until then, however, St. Gregory will meet at St. John’s Catholic chapel on 25th Avenue.
While there may be some disorder as the congregation searches for a new home, members said they are confident that the same family atmosphere that defines their gatherings will continue.
“We are a family," said Mirela Maxim. “We know each other well and do many things together."
Maxim and her husband, Constantin Platon, came to Tuscaloosa two years ago from Romania so she could earn a Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Alabama. Soon after arriving, Maxim discovered she was pregnant. Her son, Iancu, is now 14 months old, and the couple praised the church members for being there for them during the pregnancy and birth.
“In Romania, that probably wouldn’t have happened because Orthodoxy is the natural tradition and the communities are so very big," Maxim said. She also would have had family and friends to help if she had been in Romania.
Platon said that while a new church will probably not be as ornate as the larger Orthodox churches found in cities with larger orthodox populations, everyone is trying to do their part. When Maxim’s parents came to visit, they brought an icon of Emperor Constantine and Helena that the couple then donated to the Tuscaloosa church.
And each small donation seems to be making a difference. About 18 months ago, the sisterhood ministry started organizing community meals. So far, they have already raised $5,000 to be put towards a new building, Edwards said.
“I’ve been trying to search myself and everything for a reason why this happened," Edwards said. “And you know we’ve been talking for several years about looking and trying to build something, to make our own home. Sometimes the Lord works in strange ways. This time it was through condominiums.
“So this may be the way the Lord is telling us it’s time to move on, it’s time to move out. And he never shuts a door until he opens the window."
Reach Sarah Bruyn Jones at email@example.com or 205-722-0209.
(Dallas, TX) The neck surgery to be performed on Archpriest Peter Smith has been postponed until May 29th. Please continue to keep him in your prayers.I
The St John of Damascas Mission here hosted His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri on Saturday, May 19 where he celebrated the Divine Liturgy and then made a presentation on the Orthodox Faith.
Over 40 people were in attendance for the Liturgy and lecture, a record for the mission community. Tyler is at the center of several counties with a total population of over 650,000. The mission has shown steady growth in the past year which include 6 people received into Orthodoxy at Pascha. The mission also has 5+ acres of donated land for the building of a church.
Currently the mission has exclusive use of a building in Tyler which they have turned into worship and fellowship space. The mission is serviced by Priest John Anderson from St Seraphim Cathedral with monthy vespers and liturgy on Friday and Saturday. The mission is ready to add a second reader service on a Sunday and other reader services in an effort to expand their opportunities for worship and fellowship.
Many of the mission members travel to Dallas on a regular basis for Vespers and Liturgy as well as ongoing Christian education and liturgical music education.
If you would like more information about the Tyler Mission, click here for contact information.
St Sava's First Liturgy at New Site
(Allen, TX) St Sava Church celebrated its first liturgy on its newly aquired land on Holy Spirit Day. The Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Priest Seraphim Hipsh, rector of St Sava's assisted by Archpriest Basil Zebrum, dean of the DOS Southcentral Deanery and by Priest Michael Storozk, Priest-in-Charge of St Paul Mission in Denison, TX. Over 100 people were in attendance at the Liturgy. A full day of family oriented activities followed the Liturgy. Allen, Texas is just north of Plano, TX where the mission currently holds services in rented facilities.
(Atlanta, GA) Archpriest Peter Smith underwent successful neck surgery and will be released from the hospital today. He will be unable to serve for six weeks as he recovers. Please keep him in your prayers.
(Oak Ridge, TN) St Anne Church
here will host a summer intern this year as part of the OCA Seminarian Internship Program (SIP). Fr. Stephen Freeman, rector of St. Anne, will serve as mentor for seminarian Kyril Williams (St Tikhon's Seminary). Other seminarians have placements in the Dioceses of the Midwest, the West, Eastern Pennsylvania, and Washington and New York.
Under the auspices of the Department of Pastoral Life and Ministry, the church-wide 10-week SIP program is designed to provide seminarians with invaluable hands-on experience of pastoral ministry under the direction of experienced clergy. During the summer months seminarians will be participating in all aspects of parish life in the context of ongoing theological and pastoral reflection with their mentors.
His Eminence Archbishop Dmitri left for Rincon, GA this morning for the consecration of the new St Mary Magdalene Church
here. The Archbishop will also make a short visit to the new DOS mission in Aiken/Augusta, GA on Saturday morning before arriving in Rincon later Saturday afternoon.
The development of the mission in Rincon is typical of many others in the missionary history of the DOS. In early 1988, some Orthodox believers petitioned Metropolitan Theodosius to start a new mission in Savannah, GA. These believers began travelling to St Mary of Egypt Church in Atlanta on a monthly basis as well to the Monastery of Resaca, GA, where they eventually met Fr Peter Smith. In January 1989 an organizational meeting was held by several Orthodox families in Savannah, and out of this meeting St Mary Magdalene was born.
Deanery clergy visited the Mission twice a month. For a while the Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the homes of various parishioners until the community was able to gain use of the Seaman House in Savannah, which is situated on Washington Square in the historic section of downtown Savannah.
In May 1990, St Mary's moved into a storefront facility attached to a veterinarian's clinic on Skidway Rd. In June of that same year, the community's first permanent priest, the late Fr Adrian Pollard, along with his wife Matushka Xenia and their son Daniel, arrived and began ministering to the community.
From November 1994 until April 1995 the community was without a permanent place of worship, but was finally able to rent a facility on Bay St in Savannah, where they stayed until October 1999. St Mary's then rented worship space in Temple Baptist Church, also in Savannah.
In October 2001, Fr Adrian left St Mary's for another assignment, and in March 2002 the community received its second pastor, Hieromonk James (Bohlman).
In May of 2002 the community purchased a 1.82 acre tract of land a little north of Savannah, in the city of Rincon, GA. On June 2, after the Divine Liturgy, the whole community of Orthodox believers of St Mary Magdalene drove to the property for a Cross-planting ceremony, thereby claiming the land for God. On December 14th, 2002, the community moved into their new Residence on the land, and held their first Divine Liturgy in Rincon on Sunday, December 15th.
In February of 2006 the parish community began the building of its new Temple and celebrated the first Divine Liturgy in it on August 13th, 2006.
The DOS site will have complete coverage of the conseration next week. You can access the St Mary webshots page
here and view the many photos the community has posted.
His Eminence asks that we all remember Hieromonk James and the faithful of St Mary Magdalene Church in our prayers this weekend.
The mission community of St Mary Magdalene
here Consecrated their new temple with His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri leading the Rite of Consecration and the Divine Liturgy. Over 120 people from all across the DOS and North America converged on Rincon, a suburb of Savannah, GA to witness the event.
Hieromonk James (Bolhman) priest-in-charge of St Mary's along with Priest John Parker of nearby Mt Pleasant, SC, Archpriest Peter Tutko of Safety Harbor, Archpriest Michael Matsko, Livonia, MI, Deacon Lazarus Muska of St Mary of Egypt, Atlanta and Deacon Vassily Kocher of St Mary Magdalene assisted His Eminence at the Consecration.
During the Divine Liturgy, Hieromonk James was awarded the Gold Cross by His Eminence. With room to grow, His Eminence is gratified with the continued progress of the mission under the leadership of Hieromonk James and believes that community will not only reach out to others in that region of Georgia but will also become a focal point for new missionary outreach and mission planting in the years ahead.
For a complete photo essay of the Consecration, please click here.
It is with great sadness that we report that the senior hierarch of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, His Eminence, Archbishop Kyrill, fell asleep in the Lord today.
Archbishop Kyrill was the diocesan bishop of the Bulgarian Diocese and the Diocese of Western Pennsylvania. Funeral arrangements are pending. Archbishop Dmitri plans to attend the funeral of his brother in Christ and close friend.
With the passing of Archbishop Kyrill, Archbishop Dmitri becomes the senior hierarch on the Holy Synod.
May the Memory of Archbishop Kyrill be eternal.
His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri will attend the funeral of his brother in Christ and long-time friend, Archbishop Kyrill, who fell asleep in the Lord on Sunday morning.
Funeral arrangements were announced late Monday afternoon and are as follows:
Wednesday, June 20 7pm Panikhida at St George Bulgarian Orthodox Cathedral, Rossford, Ohio.
Thursday, June 21 7pm Burial Service at St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Allison Park, PA.
Friday, June 22 10am Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Allison Park, PA.
Burial at Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Ellwood City, PA to follow.
His Eminence will fly to Pittsburgh on Thursday morning and return to Dallas on Friday evening. Please keep him and all those traveling to the funeral in your prayers.
May the memory of Archbishop Kyrill be eternal!
Priest William Mills, rector of the DOS parish of The Nativity of the Virgin Mary Church here will participate in the Orthodox Radio Ministry Come Receive The Light.
Fr Mills was interviewed about his new book Baptize All Nations: Reflections on the Gospel of Matthew
. He was also invited to have a weekly PODCAST on the new ARK online radio program, an affilate of Come Receive the Light.
Father Mills book on the Gospel of Matthew is the latest in a series which includes: Prepare O Bethlehem: Reflections on the Scripture Readings for Christmas-Epiphany Season
and From Pascha to Pentecost, Reflections on the Gospel of John.
All three books are available at The Orthodox Research Institute.
Archpriest Philip Reese, rector of Christ the Saviour Cathedral here and host pastor for the 2007 DOS Assembly announced the Youth Program activities to be held during the Assembly.
The youth will enjoy a night at the ballpark watching the Florida Marlins battle the St Louis Cardinals. A day at the Miami Seaquarium will be another fun venue for the youth during the Assembly. The youth will also be part of the Banquet on Thursday evening to be held at the Don Shula Hotel and Golf Resort. Various health and participation forms are available below. Please fill them out and return them to the address indicated. The cost for the Youth Program is $75 per child which includes all of the above activities and transportation. If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact Fr. Philip Reese at 305-822-0437.Click for Youth Forms
In an effort to have the most up-to-date information about DOS parishes, missions and mission-stations, the DOS website is revamping its Parish Listing Page.
The new format will include the necessary contact information that people would need if they wishvto make contact with a particular DOS community. If the community has its own webpage it can be accessed directly from the new Parish Listing Page.
DOS communities will be listed by state. Communites are encourged to send updated information directely to the DOS webmaster for immediate posting.
Unlike the OCA webpage, the DOS Parish Listing page will list all DOS mission-stations. Since more and more people use the internet to find churches, it is important that all diocesan communites are listed, especially those in their early development.
We ask for your patience as this upgraded service is being developed.
Should you have any questions, please feel free to direct them to the DOS webmaster at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sts Mary and Martha Youth RetreatsThe Monastery of Sts Mary and Martha in Wagener, South Carolina was the host site for the Sts. Moses and Miriam Youth Retreat for 12-14 year olds was held June 13-16, 2007, and the Sts. Niketas and Eleni Youth Retreat for 15-17 year olds June 20-23, 2007. With the help of Seminarian Intern Kyrill Williams from St. Tikhon Seminary, Fr. Stephen Freeman from St. Anne’s Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee led the first retreat with 13 in attendance who represented the states of Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina. Fr. John Parker from Holy Ascension Mission in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, and Fr. David Arnold from St. Cyprian of Carthage Orthodox Church in Richmond, Virginia led the retreat for 15 older teenagers who were from Kansas, Georgia, Virginia, and South Carolina.
The topic for the younger group was “Whom Am I?” Fr. Stephen used the stories of Moses, Joseph, and Daniel, and the Three Young Men to help them understand that none of us knows who we are until we know and find ourselves in God. For the older group, Fr. John and Fr. David spoke on “Chastity and Purity – The Transformation of Cultural Imagery into Holy Icons”. The daily services of Vespers, Matins, Sixth Hour, and Compline were prayed. This year’s outdoor activity was a Canoe Trip on the South Congaree River. As their service project, each group spent one hour on Friday morning helping the nuns beautify the monastery grounds. As always, each retreat ended with Saturday Morning Liturgy and brunch.
(Dallas, TX) The members of the Holy Synod were informed today by Metropolitan Herman that a special session of the Holy Synod of Bishops will take place on Tuesday, July 31, 2007 in Syosset, NY.
With the blessing of His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri, the DOS website has added a new feature posting weekly liturgical texts
. The liturgical texts are being modified to eliminate the use of "You" and "Your" and to more closely adhere to the preferred use of the English language by His Eminence. The texts will be provided in .pdf format and are marked for easier singing. We are grateful to Priest Basil Biberdorf for providing these texts on a weekly basis.
(Dallas, TX) Priest Gleb McFatter, rector of St Demetrius Church in Naples, FL and also a Certified Public Accountant, will offer a special workshop on clergy tax and church finances at the upcoming DOS Assembly. The workshop will be held on Tuesday, July 17. The topics covered include:
1) Clergy legal responsibilities with regard to the IRS
a) Employee vs Independent Contractor Status
b) What forms should be included in the individual return
c) Tax withholdings and quarterly tax deposits
2) What is the IRS definition of "Income"
a) Including income in the personal return
b) Concept of "constructive receipt"
c) What is not income - How the parish can help
d) Housing allowances
3) Deductions and the IRS
a) Clergy specific deductions
b) Home office deductions
c) Recognizing and maximizing deduction opportunities
4) Parish Financial Reports
a) Accrual vs Cash
b) Clarity and Disclosure
c) Role of Clergy
Fr Gleb is preparing a booklet with additional details covering the above topics. The booklet will also include sample forms and other useful information. We hope to make the booklet available on the DOS website after the Assembly.
(Dallas, TX) Archbishop Dmitri's trip to Holy Apostles Church in Columbia, SC has been postponed to a later date due to air travel delays in Dallas and the southeast. His Eminence apologizes to the faithful in Columbia but looks forward to his rescheduled visit.
The 2007 DOS Clergy Wives Retreat will be held at Sts Mary and Martha Monastery in Wagener, SC September 20-23 it was announced today. The theme for the Retreat will be Challenges for Clergy Familes in Mission Setting
s. The Retreat will be led by Matushka Rozanne Rucker who will reflect on her and her husband, Priest David Rucker's experiences as overseas missionaries as well as that of a mission family in the DOS.A flyer on the Retreat
is available and we ask that you Save The Date for this important Retreat. More details will be forthcoming and shared on the DOS website. If you have any questions about the Retreat location, please contact Mother Thecla at the Sts Mary and Martha Monastery
Although unable to be at Holy Apostles Church here last weekend, many of the planned activities associated with Archbishop Dmitri's trip to South Carolina proceeded including the Carolinas Deanery meeting.
The clergy and their wives enjoyed their time together despite the absence of His Eminence. The Carolinas Deanery continues to be one of the fastest growing deaneries not only in the DOS but in the Orthodox Church in America. In another sign of the health of the Carolinas Deanery, tithe support to the DOS is running well ahead of last year's support (year-to-date.) Last year at this time the Carolinas has offered $27, 868.50 in Tithes. This year the Carolinas Deanery communities have offered $58,782.63, an increase of $30,914.13.
The Carolinas Deanery
includes 10 mission-stations, missions and parishes. Priest Marcus Burch is the Dean.
(Dallas, TX) With the blessing of His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri, we are now providing the Troparia, Kontakia and Prokeimenon for the Lord's Day cycle. These are set to music from the translation of His Eminence.
In addition the DOS website has additional Prokeimenon for the days of the week and various commemorations of saints.
These and other music resources will be posted in the Liturgical Music section of the website. They are posted and can be used without further permission.
The latest publication of Priest William C. Mills, rector of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary Church here has been released, A Light to the Gentiles: Reflections on the Gospel of Luke.
The fourth in a series by Fr. Mills, the latest book is a collection of pastoral reflections on the gospel lessons from Luke that appear from mid-September through Christmas, including the readings for the preparatory weeks leading up to Great Lent. A Light to the Gentiles
is a wonderful resource for personal and group Bible study, adult education classes, and sermon preparation. It is easy to read and provides “food for thought” for our journey to the Kingdom.
Other books in this series include From Pascha to Pentecost: Reflections on the Gospel of John
(Rollinsford, NH: Orthodox Research Institute, 2005), Prepare O Bethlehem: Reflections on the Scripture Readings for Christmas-Epiphany
(Rollinsford, NH: Orthodox Research Institute, 2006), and Baptize All Nations: Reflections on the Gospel of Matthew
(Rollinsford, NH: Orthodox Research Institute, 2007).
Future books in this series include reflections on the Gospel of Mark and on the Gospel readings for the major feast days.
Fr. William Mills, Ph.D. in addition to being the rector of the Nativity of the Holy Virgin Orthodox Church in Charlotte, NC, is an adjunct professor of religious studies at Queens University in Charlotte, NC. Fr. Mills received his Bachelor of History from Millersville University of Pennsylvania and then pursued theological studies at Saint Vladimir's Theological Orthodox Seminary in Crestwood, NY where he received both a Master of Divinity and Master of Theology degrees. He then pursued advanced theological studies at the Union Institute and University in Cincinnati, Ohio where he received his doctorate in Pastoral Theology. His essays and book reviews have appeared in AGAIN magazine, The Orthodox Church in America Magazine, Cistercian Studies Quarterly, Pro Ecclesia, and Theological Studies. In the Fall, Fr. Mills will host a regular PODCAST on the new ARK radio program, a ministry of "Come Receive the Light" radio ministries.
For more information on A Light to the Gentiles: Reflections on the Gospel
, please log on to www.iuniverse.com
or call 1-800-AUTHORS. Discounts for bulk orders are available.
SAVE THE DATE
St Seraphim Orthodox Cathedral will host a Church Singing Workshop on the weekend of October 19-21, 2007 for Church singers in the greater DFW metropolitan area. Reader John Edson, Choir Director of St Nicholas Orthodox Church in Portland, OR [OCA]) will be our guest Workshop leader.
Activities will begin Friday evening, Oct 19th, with a reception for Workshop participants followed by a short rehearsal. Morning and afternoon sessions will be held on Saturday to be followed by celebration of the Vigil at 5:00PM with Reader John leading a choir of Workshop participants. Workshop participants are again invited to sing at the Sunday Divine Liturgy under Reader John's direction. Participants will be asked to pay a modest admission fee (to be determined) to help cover costs for food, Workshop materials, and Rdr John's travel expense.
Please address questions concerning the Church Singing Workshop to:
Nicholas Paraskevas, St Seraphim Orthodox Cathedral. email@example.com; 972.416.5378.
All Assembly participants are encouraged to download, print and bring the liturgical text for the daily services
to be celebrated at the upcoming Assembly. Those wishing to sing are asked arrive 30 minutes before each service to rehearse. We are grateful to Priest Marcus Burch who will oversee all of the liturgical music at the Assembly.
Archpriest Philip Reese, host priest for the 2007 DOS Assembly has released the final schedule
for the upcoming Assembly next week in Miami. Assembly participants are asked to download, print and bring the schedule to the Assembly.
The Chancery Office in Dallas has released the Agenda for the 2007 Assembly and the Minutes from the 2006 Assembly. In addition, the Report of the Diocesan Mission Coordinator is also available. Assembly participants are asked to download, copy and bring all Assembly documents
available on the DOS website to Miami.
(Miami, FL) With the DOS being so large and Miami being at the extreme southeast corner of the Diocese, it will take some clergy and laity a few days to reach south Florida for the 2007 DOS Assembly. As last minute preparations are being undertaken by Christ the Saviour Cathedral, the annual summer event will once again be marked by the diocesan faithful gathering around their beloved Archbishop Dmitri. It will also be an occasion for clergy to greet one another and for the laity to experience the work of the Church beyond the parish level.
This year's Assembly will begin the year-long celebration marking the 30th Anniversary of the founding of the DOS. Archpriest Daniel and Matushka Myra Kovalak will be featured speakers and presenters at the Assembly. Father Daniel was part of those early years in the DOS as a deacon at Christ the Saviour in Miami. He and Myra will share some of their early impressions of the Diocese and how the missionary work of the DOS must continue.
This year's DOS financial report to be given by Treasurer, Milos Konjevich will show that the finances of the Diocese are strong and getting stronger. Such a position of financial strength can open new and exciting opportunities for the DOS to help new missions begin and existing parishes to further develop. The relative financial strength of the DOS is due to the strong rise in Tithes to the diocese from the parishes. This rise also signals that parish financial strength is also on the rise. Currently the DOS is 44% ahead of last year's record income pace.
For more information on the 2007 DOS Assembly, please read all of the reports that are online. Of particular interest are the Deanery Reports which give the reader a up close look at each deanery and parish in the DOS.
As the clergy and laity of the DOS travel to Miami, we ask that you keep them in your prayers that the Lord will protect them in their journey.
(Miami, FL) With the clergy and laity gathered in worship for daily Vespers around their Archpastor, His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri, the senior Hierarch on the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America opened the 30th DOS Assembly at Christ the Saviour Cathedral, the site of the 1st DOS Assembly in 1978.
After Vespers and a welcoming dinner hosted by Christ the Saviour, the laity gathered to hear the opening presentation of Archpriest Daniel Kovalak, who was the first man ordained to the Holy Priesthood in the DOS by Archbishop Dmitri. Earlier in the day, Matushka Myra Kovalak led a discussion with DOS Matushki.
While the laity met with Fr Kovalak, His Eminence gathered with 46 of his clergy in the Cathedral exhorting them in their missionary zeal. He also urged all of the clergy in the Diocese to understand their vocation as Priests and Deacons as a precious gift to be cherished and never given up. He asked for the clergy to pray for one of our own who is facing calls that his Priesthood be taken away a priesthood he does not wish to abandon. His Eminence considers such calls as “unthinkable.”
His Eminence shared with the clergy that the financial health of the DOS is as sound as it has ever been and that such health will directly translate into increased missionary efforts. The financial disposition of the DOS is grounded on the Tithe. Such a method of support indicates that the financial health of the parishes continues to improve.
His Eminence then asked the DOS deans to update the gathered clergy with the most important missionary accomplishments since the last Assembly in Dallas. The updates proved that new missions continue to be planted, the outreach to the poor in urban Atlanta at St John the Wonderworker is expanding and there is a desire to reach out to Hispanic and Russian populations in the DOS as well as more ministry to the retired populations in the Diocese.
The evening concluded with His Eminence taking questions from the clergy, some of which centered on the current situation facing the OCA. He asked for his clergy to pray for him with the upcoming special session of the Holy Synod. He encouraged them not to be dismayed, to be focused on the work in their parish so that the diocese can continue to gain strength so the Gospel can be preached.
Priest Stephen Freeman, Rector of St Ann Mission in Oak Ridge, TN and Dean of the Appalachian Deanery has posted a reflection on the first day of the Assembly and the words shared by Archbishop Dmitri. You can read his reflection by clicking here to his blog.
(Miami, FL) With the faithful of the DOS gathered around their Archpastor, Day 2 of the Assembly began with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy here at Christ the Saviour Cathedral. His Eminence concelebrated the Liturgy with His Grace Bishop Mark, retired OCA Hierarch.
At the Liturgy, His Eminence's sermon centered on the fact that being an Orthodox Christian in our present society will not win us the praise of man, nor are we called to “fit in” but rather to stand firm in the Faith, which in fact will earn us the scorn of this world but the reward of the world to come.
After the Liturgy, the faithful had brunch with the rest of the day open for either sightseeing in greater Miami or also taking advantage of two workshops on Clergy tax and finance issues offered by Priest Gleb McFatter, rector of St Demetrius Church in Naples, FL and also a CPA. The other workshop on Christian Education issues in the parish offered by Matushka Christine Zebrun and Matushka Myra Kovalak.
During the afternoon, the DOS Diocesan Council met with His Eminence to review the proposed 2008 Diocesan budget and other issues facing the diocese. The Diocesan Council approved the proposed budget and moved to send it on to the Assembly for consideration.
Following daily Vespers the Assembly delegates and observers gathered for the Keynote Presentation by Archpriest Daniel Kovalak entitled True Faith in An Age of False Religion. Father Daniel is the rector of Holy Cross Church in Williamsport, PA and an early missionary in the DOS. In the Keynote, Father Kovalak challenged the Assembly participants to unwrap the packaging of false religion that is all around us and to see what is in its heart. He further challenged his listeners to unwrap the message of Christianity and test it, dig deep into its teachings and if we do so we will find that it still speaks to the true nature and heart of man because the Truth of Christianity is in a Person and that Person is Jesus Christ. There being no relativism in Christ or Orthodoxy Christianity we should not be surprised that people are willing to give up everything to follow Christ and share His message - as missionaries - to the end of the world.
On Day 3 of the DOS Assembly the Plenary session work will take place.
(Miami, FL) The Diocese of the South held its plenary sessions today which included the welcoming address of His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri, the financial reports and budget presentation by Treasurer, Mr. Milos Konjevich and the Metropolitan Council report by Archpriest Philip Reese and Gary Popovich. During the first plenary session the 2008 budget was approved, a record budget.
One highlight of the 2008 budget will be $172,000 or 25% of the DOS budget used for mission and parish development. This support will be for the starting of new missions, helping missions move to the next step of development as well as existing parishes looking to develop to another level of growth and ministry.
Archpriest Philip Reese gave the report on the work of the Metropolitan Council which detailed their efforts in light of the current situation facing the central church administration. The delegates were grateful for the report and the work of Fr Philip and Mr Gary Popovich. They also gave their prayerful support to Archbishop Dmitri as he prepares for the special session of the Holy Synod.
In the afternoon plenary session the deanery reports were shared with the delegates, followed by the Report of the Mission's Director, and the DOS monastic communities. Other reports on the progress on the DOS Pastoral School and the DOS website were given to the delegates.
His Eminence concluded the Assembly with words of challenge and encouragement to the delegates to take full advantage of the missionary opportunities known and to be revealed to us by God. He stressed that reaching out to Hispanic and Russian populations must continue to be a priority as well as our continued efforts to bring more converts to the Faith.
The Assembly delegates thanked the clergy and members of Christ the Saviour Cathedral for hosting the 30th DOS Assembly.
The next Assembly will be in Dallas, TX hosted by St Seraphim Cathedral to culminate the year-long celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the DOS.
Priest Basil Biberdorf, Priest-in-Charge of St Cyril of Jerusalem Mission in The Woodlands, TX (a suburb of Houston) was featured in the local Houston Communities paper with his article on Charity. Click here to read the article.
The 2007 DOS Assembly was blessed to have Archpriest Daniel and Matushka Myra Kovalak as special guests. Fr. Daniel gave the keynote address and Matushka Myra offered two presentations on Christian education. Click here to listen to Father Daniel's dynamic keynote address.
An annual feature of the DOS Assembly is the Clergy wives luncheon with His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri. This gathering gives the Archbishop time to hear from the clergy wives and a chance for him to thank the matushki for their invaluable ministry in their respective parishes and missions.
The DOS is grateful to Matushka Debbie Reese who did a wonderful job in organizing the clergy wives luncheon and helping Fr. Philip Reese and the faithful of Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Miami organize the other events at this year's Assembly. May the Lord continue to bless you as you reach out to share the Gospel of Christ in Miami.
Starting with the current Summer 2007 issue, the Diocesan publication, The Dawn,
will be posted on-line in pdf format. The current issue is a retrospective of DOS history as we begin the celebration of our 30th Anniversary.
(Dallas, TX) His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri has received Priest Paul Schellbach into the DOS. Father Paul is a graduate of St Vladimir's Seminary in Crestwood, NY. His wife Matushka Patty is a member of our Holy Cross Mission in Greensboro, NC.
Fr Paul was ordained on Elevation of the Holy Cross in 1995 at SVS and served three years on active duty as an Army Chaplain from 1996-1999. From 1999-2003, Fr Paul and wife Patty served in the Diocese of the West in Salt Lake City and Hesperia, CA.
In 2004 Fr Paul served a tour of duty in Iraq as a Army Chaplain. Fr. Paul is still in the Army National Guard and plans to stay active for four more years so that he may retire from the military with 30 years of service.
In addition to his pastoral and chaplain experience, for the last two years, Fr Paul has been working on a Master's in Social Work degree. He hopes to combine his social work experience as his main employment so that he can be of service to the DOS in the Carolinas Deanery as a much needed supply missionary priest to service the many new mission communites in that region.
We welcome Fr Paul and Patty to the DOS and ask God to bless them with with Many Years of good service in the missionary field.
(Dallas, TX) Anna Kondratick, 92 the mother of Protopresbyter Rodion Kondratick fell asleep in the Lord early this morning in Waymart, PA where she resided at a nursing home. The funeral will be on Wednesday. His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri asks that you pray for the newly-departed handmaiden of God, Anna. May her memory be eternal.
(Dallas, TX) His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri has blessed a request made at the recently concluded DOS Assembly in Miami to provide an updated list of names of all diocesan clergy (priests and deacons) and their families to be published. To facilitate this effort, all DOS clergy are asked to submit to the chancery office the following information:
Baptismal Name of Priest or Deacon
Baptismal Name of Clergy Wife (if applicable)
Baptismal Name(s) of Children (if applicable)
The above information may be emailed to Archpriest Joseph Fester at firstname.lastname@example.org or via fax to 214-526-7170
We hope to publish the new DOS Clergy/Family Prayer List by the end of August. Should you have any questions, please contact Father Fester via email or at 214-522-4149.
DOS Clergy, please click here to download the 2007/2008 Census FormCLERGY ARE ASKED TO RETURN THEIR 2008 CENSUS FORMS BY MID-DECEMBER. IF YOU HAVE NOT SENT IN YOUR CENSUS FORM, PLEASE DO SO AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. THANK YOU.
(Dallas, TX) The clergy and faithful of St Seraphim Cathedral here caught a glimpse into the near future of the completed iconography project at the diocesan Cathedral when the scaffolding was taken down for the summer months.
The interior dome is the last section to be completed inside the nave of the Cathedral with the narthex the last phase to be finished. The project will be completed in time for next year's DOS Assembly and the culmination of the 30th Year Anniversary celebration of the Diocese.
The Feast of the Pentecost was the last icon to be written in the front section of the Cathedral which also includes icons of the Nativity and Resurrection of Christ.
In addition to the completed interior iconography, the Cathedral will also restore the interior wood floors and install new carpeting in the altar, while the exterior dome and will be restored prior to next year's Assembly.
(Rincon, GA) St Mary Magdalene Mission here launched its new website
today using the services of Orthodox Web Solutions
St Mary's is located in north suburban Savannah, Georgia in the fast growing town of Rincon. The mission (who's new temple was recently conscerated) is well situated to capture the explosive growth taking place in east coastal Georgia as many people are discovering it as an alternative to other typical southern regions for relocation.
The mission is led by Hieromonk James (Bohlman) who leads a group of laity commited to the missionary growth of St Mary's and the planting of new missions in eastern Georgia.
(Dallas, TX) After two plus days of hardware issues at the DOS Chancery, and thanks to the diligent work of Priest Seraphim Hipsh, the DOS website is back.
Needless to say, there are things to report and share in the DOS since we last posted and we will do our best to catch up with news that has been sent to us.
We will resume posting DOS news on Wednesday.
St Seraphim Cathedral here will host a Church Singing Workshop the weekend of October 19-21, 2007. Reader John Edson, choir director at St. Nicholas Church in Portland, Oregon will be the guest instructor.For more information, click here.
(Dallas, TX) His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI has blessed the date and location for the 2008 DOS Assembly to be held here. The Assembly will be June 24-26, 2008 at the Renaissance Hotel. The hotel is located less than 3 miles from St Seraphim Cathedral. The eariler than usual date is necessary due to the anticipated All American Council later in 2008.
A special Assembly rate of $119 per night has been secured with the additional concession of free parking for Assembly delegates. The Renaissance is a full-service hotel with normal room rates of $249 per night. In addition the hotel will have sufficient banquet facilities to accomodate our needs for next year.
The Grand Banquet on Thursday evening of the Assembly will mark the 30th Anniversary of the DOS as well as celebrating the 85th birthday of our beloved Archpastor.
Assembly registration will begin on Monday, June 23. The Diocesan Council will meet Tuesday morning, June 24 with the pastoral conference in the afternoon. The Divine Liturgy will be celebrated Wednesday morning followed by the Clergy wives luncheon. A youth program will be developed with activities Tuesday-Thursday. The plenary sessions will be held Thursday with the banquet at the hotel of Thursday evening.
All DOS parishes, missions and mission-stations are encouraged to begin bugetary planning as soon as possible so that attendance at this historic Assembly is possible.
Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact the DOS Chancery office.
Cathedral Bible Scholars Summer Program
(Dallas, TX) During the summer months at St Seraphim Cathedral the children and young adults are rarely seen after the Divine Liturgy and during fellowship hour. Not to be alarmed they are not into any mischief. In fact they are making wonderful use of their time learning Scripture.
For the past several years Demetrios Gallimore, parish council president and church school teacher, has invested thousands of hours to make bible verse sets to help the Cathedral youth become more familiar with important Bible verses. “It started with just a few verses but slowly it has grown into quite an endeavor” remarks Demetrios. “The kids love to grab a packet of cards and sit down and figure out the verse.”
Each card is printed, laminated and cut into sets of cards some with color coded hints to help the “bible scholars” complete the verse.
Recently, His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri dropped in on the summer Bible scholars to put a set together and give some helpful hints for those stuck on a verse. “It is so wonderful to see these youngster really having fun and pouring over a Bible verse. I am so proud of our young people in this Cathedral and across the Diocese. A love for the Holy Scriptures is a blessing and much needed.”
Many thanks to Demetrios for his love of Scripture and his labor of love
Do you have a Summer education program for your students? Feel free to share your efforts via the DOS website.
(Dallas, TX) For clergy who have not yet given the names and that of their family members please be reminded that His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri has blessed a request made at the recently concluded DOS Assembly in Miami to provide an updated list of names of all diocesan clergy (priests and deacons) and their families to be published. To facilitate this effort, all DOS clergy are asked to submit to the chancery office the following information:
Baptismal Name of Priest or Deacon
Baptismal Name of Clergy Wife (if applicable)
Baptismal Name(s) of Children (if applicable)
The above information may be emailed to Archpriest Joseph Fester at email@example.com or via fax to 214-526-7170
We hope to publish the new DOS Clergy/Family Prayer List by the end of August. Should you have any questions, please contact Father Fester via email or at 214-522-4149
Priest Christopher Foley and the Holy Cross Mission are featured in the local Jamestown Newspaper today. The fast growing mission has recently moved into larger worship space serving the spiritual needs of the greater Greensboro-High Point, NC region.
Here is a copy of an article that appeared this week in the local
newspaper about Holy Cross. I have sent you the text, but the article
can be found at:
To read the article, click the link below then click on the "Lifestyle and Receipes" section.http://www.womacknewspapers.com/jamestownnews/
Archbishop with Fr John Breck
Archbishop with Fr John Breck
Archbishop with Carolina Clergy
Archbishop with Carolina Clergy
Archbishop with Fr Schellbach
Archbishop with Fr Schellbach
(Columbia, SC) His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri travelled to Columbia, SC this weekend for a rescheduled archpastoral visit to Holy Apostles Church. The trip was rescheduled due to His Eminence's inability to fly to Columbia in July due to bad weather in Dallas.
The Carolinas Deanery hosted His Eminence and subdeacon Vladimir Grygorenko on Friday with a luncheon and discussion on the work of the Deanery. The gathered clergy were edified by the encouraging words of Archbishop Dmitri about the Diocese of the South.
On Saturday His Eminence visited Sts Martha and Mary Monastery in nearby Wagener, SC and then celebrated the Lord’s Day cycle at Holy Apostles. Pictures for Saturday and Sunday will be posted on the DOS site this week.
On Saturday, His Eminence had breakfast with the parish council of Holy Apostles Church here then traveled to Wagener, SC to visit Sts Martha and Mary Monastery. Saturday concluded with Great Vespers and a talk with the faithful of the parish.
The Divine Liturgy capped the visted to Holy Apostles before His Eminence's return to Dallas on Sunday night. At the Divine Liturgy, Father Thomas was awarded the Gold Cross. Axios!
Many thanks to Father Thomas Moore and his flock for providing the following picture gallery
of the Archbishop's stay in South Carolina.
St John Chrysostom Mission-station here will have an important coming weekend as Priest Cyprian DuRant makes his monthly missionary trip to Columbus.
Great Vespers will be celebrated on Saturday at 6pm with the Divine Liturgy on Sunday at 10:00am. What will make the weekend special is that the mission will welcome three new members via Christmation and one inquirer into the catechumenate.
The mission-station is also on the verge of moving to a new location to better serve the growing needs of the community. Reader Joseph Rice, the local contact person for St John’s comments that, “This weekend has a lot of big changes in store for St John Chrysostom. Please keep this mission and all Orthodox missions in your prayers, so that we may further the spread of the Gospel in our nation.”
Indeed, we join you in prayer and ask God to continue the holy work being done in Columbus.
For more information on St John Chrysostom Mission-station, please visit their website.
(Fort Worth, TX)
The OCA Department of Christian Education will hold a Christian Education Conference here on Saturday, September 29. A download flyer is available here
In a press release from the DCE the following information was announced:Department of Christian Education to Hold Regional Conference in North Texas
The Department of Christian Education of the Orthodox Church in America will present a one-day conference in North Texas for teachers, parents, youth leaders, and anyone interested in Christian Education. This will be held on Saturday, September 29, 2007 at St. Barbara Orthodox Church, 5201 Alta Mesa Blvd., Ft. Worth, TX 76133. The conference will begin at 9:30 a.m. with registration, concluding at 5:00 p.m. with Great Vespers.
Entitled “In The Beginning…”, the conference will utilize the Book of Genesis as an example of what teachers and parents can do when instructing their children and Church School students of various age and grade levels. Intrigue, controversy, struggle, travel, inclement weather, construction and gardening. The Book of Genesis has it all. The Orthodox Church prescribes the reading of Genesis both in our private and in our corporate worship. The Fathers taught about it. And we must teach it also to our young and old alike; a solid foundation in scripture starts IN THE BEGINNING.
Two keynote addresses will be given: the first presented by His Eminence Dmitri, Archbishop of Dallas and The South on “The Church’s Use of Scripture in Her Services”. Archbishop Dmitri is a well known author and lecturer on numerous topics on the Orthodox faith. The second address will be entitled “How Genesis Can Help Our Kids Navigate Their World” and will be presented by Matushka Valerie Zahirsky. Her talk will focus on influences from outside our Orthodox environment that challenge our youth in today’s society and how the Church and the Fathers addressed them.
Workshop topics will include: “What? Who? When?” what to teach, who to teach it to, and when to teach the subject matter; “The Welcoming Classroom” showing how to create instructional, functional, and organized classrooms; “Creative Ideas for Home and Church School” giving hands on examples of activities and resources that are available at all age levels; and “Building a Thematic Lesson on Genesis” which will show how to create a lesson plan, and why this tool is so valuable. All workshops will be lead by members of the Department of Christian Education who are all professionals in their fields of expertise. During the breaks and lunch hour additional educational materials will be available at the displays. Some materials will be available for purchase.
The cost is $15.00 per person to cover lunch, conference materials, etc. Checks payable to The Orthodox Church in America. Registration forms should be returned no later than Wed., Sept. 26th to Matushka Christine Zebrun, 6929 Winifred Drive, Ft. Worth, TX 76133. If you have questions or need overnight lodging information please call 817-346-6879 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also contact the Department of Christian Education at email@example.com.
(Columbus, GA) The St John Chrysostom Mission here grew in membership this weekend in a big way with 3 new catechumens received into Holy Orthodoxy. In addition to the new members one new cathecumen was enrolled by Priest Cyprian DuRant, assistant priest at St Mary of Egypt Church in Atlanta and missionary priest to the mission in Columbus.
To some it may not seem like much, but to the members of the mission-station here 19 people attended the Divine Liturgy, a record for this community.
As previously reported, the mission-station will close on new permanent-temporary worship space this week. The mission-station continues to make steady progress in establishing a greater Orthodox witness in southwest Georgia.
Many Years to the newest members of the Body of Christ and the Diocese of the South.
(Denison, TX) On Saturday, August 25, His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri with clergy from the DOS Southcentral Deanery travelled here to consecrate the altar and Church dedicated to St. Paul the Apostle.
In November 2002, Archbishop Dmitri assigned Priest Michael Storozuk to investigate the possibility of a new mission in the Sherman/Denison area of north Texas. In early 2003 an organizational meeting was held and the first Divine Liturgy was celebrated in borrowed space at the Old Katy Railroad depot in Denison. By mid February the mission’s liturgical cycle was expanded to include Wednesday Vespers and by March Saturday Great Vespers or Vigil was added to the weekly worship cycle. In addition, a full cycle of services has be observed at the mission.
In November 2003 the community purchased 2+ acres on Preston Road in Denison and work on building a church began at once. With the blessing of Archbishop Dmitri a plan based on a drawing in 1849 by St Jacob Netsvetov for a church built in Ikogmiut, Alaska, and approved by St. Innocent became the model for new church in Denison.
On November 22, 2003 the first loads of materials were delivered and on December 1, less than 10 months after the mission’s first Divine Liturgy construction of the church began. Father Michael, a master builder and work-worker, acted as the architect, general contractor, mason, builder and landscape designer with immeasurable help of parishioners and local craftsmen who took a keen interest in the project.
Father Michael built the iconostatsis and interior cabinetry as well as the new altar built to traditional Orthodox standards.
In addition to His Eminence and Father Michael, the service of Consecration was attended by Archpriest Basil Zebrun, Dean of the Southcentral Deanery and rector of St Barbara Church, Fort Worth, TX, Archpriest Joseph Fester, St Seraphim Cathedral, Dallas, Priest Justin Fredrick, St Maximus Mission in Denton, TX and Priest Ambrose Arrington, Holy Apostles Church in Tulsa, OK, Deacons Gregory Norris and Stephen Kroll of St Seraphim Cathedral and faithful from the North Texas area.
Congratulations and Many Years to the faithful of St Paul Church.
His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri along with Archpriest Joseph Fester, Priest Michael Storozuk, Diocesan Treasurer, Milos Konjevich, and Vladimir Grygorenko traveled to Tulsa yesterday to see the building program progress of Holy Apostles Mission.
Priest Ambrose Arrington, Priest-in-Charge and his family along with several mission council members and parishioners greeted His Eminence. After walking part of the 8 acres of land the mission purchased for $88,000, the Archbishop concluded that “Holy Apostles will grow and bring the Orthodox Faith to more people in Tulsa.”
The DOS is financially assisting Holy Apostles as part of its ongoing diocesan mission support program. Father Michael Storozuk, a master wood craftsman has already built the altar for the mission and will build the chapel’s iconostasis while Vladimir Grygorenko will write the chapel icons. The on-site inspection by Fr Michael and Mr Grygorenko was used to make final adjustments to the iconostatsis and icon painting requirements.
The current chapel dedicated to St. Matthew, is almost complete and thanks to the generous gift of a mission member, a customized manufactured building matching the exterior design of the chapel will be delivered to the construction site in the next few days. The manufactured structure will house Father Ambrose’s office, classrooms, a fellowship hall and kitchen. With the placing of the Fellowship Hall, the mission will have completed both Phase 1 and 2 of their overall project.
Phase 3 is the building of a rectory on the land with Phase 4 the building of the main Church for Holy Apostles. As envisioned, the Holy Apostles Church project will also include a parish cemetery with additional land set aside for what the Lord may reveal to them in the future.
Holy Apostles is located on the outskirts of Tulsa and directly in the new population and demographic shift of the city. New homes are being built in the area as Tulsa moves toward Holy Apostles Mission.
The new chapel will fit up to 100 worshippers. Once the mission begins to reach capacity for its chapel, work will begin on the main Church. The chapel will continue to be used in the future for weekday Divine Liturgies and other weekday services.
Plans are now being discussed for the date for the Consecration of the St. Matthew Chapel of Holy Apostles Church.
For more Mission information and pictures of His Eminence’s visit, click here.
Priest Christopher Foley and the Holy Cross Mission here was again featured in the local newspaper for the greater Greensboro-High Point, NC area. To read the article, click here.
Located near several military bases in east coastal Georgia, and a frequent stop for Orthodox military families who worship here, St Mary Magdalene is answering the call to reach out to our troops in Iraq.
Their efforts started about three years ago when three of their parish military families were all sent off to Iraq at the same time. The parish decided to embrace a ministry to them. Thus, every week, for the entire time that they were deployed, St Mary Magdalene faithful sent each soldier one box each chock-full of various goodies; some homemade, some store bought.
In the mission narthex a basket is set out ready to be filled with items for the military care packages. In front of the basket is a framed photo of each soldier. Each Sunday people bring one item for each of the men. On Monday, Hieromonk James (Bohlman) boxes the items, along with the previous Sunday's sermon, and using a flat-rate box from the post office (as well as its required customs forms) ships the boxes to the each G.I.
Thank you notes from the soldiers confirms that the mission’s effort are much appreciated. “ Sometimes they are depressed, sometimes lonely, sometimes just missing home” says Father James, “yet they know that there will be another box coming. It is a for us to send our love, respect and support.”
For more information about St Mary Magdalene Mission, or if you wish to contact them about their military outreach efforts, click here.
His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri will travel to Clinton, MS for the Consecration of Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church
on September 22, 2007.
The parish community purchased a neighboring Presbyterian Church complex last year and have been remodeling it in preparation of the consecration. The altar and Church will be consecrated when His Eminence is present.
Archpriest Paul Yerger, rector of Holy Resurrection, has invited the faithful and friends of the DOS to participate in this joyous event. An invitation letter is available
with contact information, directions and list of local hotels.
In a letter dated today, Priest David Arnold, Priest-in-Charge of St Cyprian of Carthage Mission
in Richmond, VA. informed His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri that work has begun on the construction of their new Temple.
In the same letter Father David stated, "... please accept the gratitude of our parish for the necessary
support that we are receiving from the Diocese. The commitment of the
Diocese to see this and other building programs move forward and not
retreat due to cost is a powerful witness."
As with previous building projects in the DOS, His Eminence has approved special petitions to be offered at the Augmented Litany celebrated during the mission liturgical services giving proper thanks to God for the opportunity to be missionaries in the building up of the Church.
Father Arnold also informed His Eminence that he will supply the DOS website with pictoral coverage documenting the Temple's building progress.
On behalf of His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri, our prayers continue to be with Fr David and the Faithful of St Cyprian of Carthage Mission in Richmond.
(Clinton, MS) In preparation for the consecration of their new church building this coming Saturday, the faithful of Holy Resurrection Church here witnessed the placing of their new dome atop the once spired Presbyterian church the community bought last year. Complete photo coverage of the Consecration event will be provided next week.
On Sunday, September 9 a "beautiful beginning" in the words of Priest Timothy Ullman, took place here in the state capital of Alabama.
With great joy and anticipation, twenty-four faithful attended the first liturgy of the DOS Montgomery Mission outreach. They were inspired by the sermon of Priest Benedict Crawford on the love for God and love for one another. The day was filled with excitement as the group saw the potential of a new Orthodox witness in the greater Montgomery area.
The Montgomery mission will hold the Lord's Day cycle of services for the next several months with weekday gatherings held as often as possible. The mission development will be led by Fathers Crawford and Ullman. Father Benedict will travel from Birmingham on weekends while Fr Ullman, a USAF chaplain assigned to a military base nearby, will help facilitate local organization efforts during the week.
If you would like more information on the DOS Montgomery Mission outreach, please click here
and send your questions to Frs. Crawford and Ullman.
Please continue to pray for the mission that God would increase His blessing upon this beautiful work.
With the end of summer this coming Sunday, we can look back at a very busy building season here in the DOS. The latest community to hear the sound of heavy equipment transforming the landscape so their new Temple can take root is St Cyprian of Carthage Mission
in Richmond, VA.Holy Apostles Mission
in Tulsa moved into their new chapel last Sunday and their iconostasis and icons are being built and written as this update is being made.
News reached the Diocese this week that Holy Trinity Church
in Safety Harbor, FL has also started work on their new Temple while progress at St. Mark Church
in Bradenton, FL (picture here)
is going well despite rain delays, but we all know it rains in Florida in the summer!
This weekend, His Eminence will travel to Clinton, MS. to consecrate the renovated Presbyterian church that Holy Resurrection Church
bought last year. This new Orthodox Temple and support buildings will be a great blessing to greater Jackson, MS. area as Holy Resurrection meets the needs of those discovering the Orthodox Faith.
Of course we all have been kept informed on the beautiful progress of Holy Ascension Church
in Mt. Pleasant, SC. as they look to consecrate their new Temple in early 2008.
Besides these current efforts, St. Maximus Mission
in Denton, TX and St. Sava Church
in Plano, TX are both actively engaged in site planning for the building of their new Churches while St. Athanasius Mission
in Nicholasville, KY continues to move closer to developing the beautiful location they have for their future Temple.
God continues to bless the Diocese of the South with great opportunities to reach out to others with the Orthodox Faith. The generous support being made in these and all the parishes of the DOS is a reminder of the missionary commitment our Diocese continues to foster and promote. An indication of this commitment is reflected in DOS tithes this year which currently are running 28% ahead of last's years record pace of $405,000. Another is the line-item in the 2008 DOS Budget of $175,000 for mission and parish development!
Your prayers for all of our parishes, clergy and faithful are needed as we do our part to bring the Orthodox Faith to others in the DOS.
(Dallas, TX) An important part of the building project at Holy Apostles Mission in Tulsa are the writing of the icons for the iconostasis at their chapel dedicated to St Matthew the Apostle. Vladimir Grygorenko, the iconographer at St. Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas is also writing the icons for Tulsa and in these pictures he is doing the gold-leafing around the image of Our Lord.
His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri travelled to Mississippi this past weekend to consecrate the new Temple of Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in Clinton and also make his first archpastoral visit to Christ the Savior Mission in McComb.Day One
After celebrating his Namesday in Dallas with the Divine Liturgy, His Eminence arrived on late Friday afternoon by car with Milos Konjevich, DOS Treasurer and Deacon Steven Kroll from St Seraphim Cathedral. His Eminence attended Vespers and bestowed a Gramota to long-time Holy Resurrection parishioner Marlene Mackie.
After Vespers, the Archbishop blessed the office and classroom building dedicated to the memory of Archpriest George Gladky, missionary founder of Holy Resurrection. The parish hall, dedicated to Archbishop DMITRI was also blessed. Day Two
On Saturday morning the consecration service was celebrated followed by the Divine Liturgy. The altar table was built by Priest Michael Storozuk of Denison, Texas, a skilled woodworker. It has no nails or screws, but is held together by wooden pegs and glue. The top is supported by five columns, one at each corner and one in the center. During the service the Archbishop and clergy “completed” its construction by placing the top on the columns and driving in the four wooden pegs which secure the top to the columns.
As part of the consecration service His Eminence took up the relics and made a procession with them outside around the building, sprinkling each side of the Temple with holy water. When he returned to the front door of the Temple the Archbishop prayed and made a solemn entrance, carrying the relics to the Holy Table. He “buried” them in an opening in the altar over the center column and sealed them with mastic. Then the table was vested with a white covering representing the burial cloth of Christ, and bound with a cord representing the binding of Christ at His trial. This cover and cord are never removed. Then the table was covered with a second bright cover, representing the heavenly Throne of the Lord. Then the Tabernacle, Gospel Book, Cross and other furnishings are placed on the altar table.
Then a procession was made around the inside of the Temple and the four walls were sprinkled with holy water and sealed with the Chrism. This completed the Consecration.
Before the Liturgy began, His Eminence tonsured John and David Dietrich and Robert Hegwood as readers.
In addition to His Eminence and Archpriest Paul Yerger, rector of Holy Resurrection, many area clergy assisted in the consecration service including, Fr. John Henderson and Fr. James Meadows, with Deacon Richard Root of St. Peter’s Church, Madison, Mississippi, Fr. John Maxwell of Sts. George and Alexandra Church, Ft. Smith, Arkansas, Fr. Michael Storozuk of St. Paul’s Church, Denison, Texas, Fr. Matthew Jackson of Christ the Saviour Church, McComb, Mississippi.
The Temple consecrated was purchased last year by Holy Resurrection Church. The purchased property was the former Mt. Salus Presbyterian Church located about a mile from our the former church property. The Holy Resurrection faithful spent more than a year making extensive renovations to the church building as well as extensive renovations to the educational, fellowship and new bookstore.
Saturday ended with a banquet and many thanks by Father Yerger and His Eminence to all those who worked so hard to make this important day in the history of Holy Resurrection Church in Clinton, MS a reality.
For a complete photo essay on the consecration, click here.Day Two continued...
With His Eminence, Milos and Deacon Steven driving 90 minutes south to the small town of McComb, MS. where Priest Matthew Jackson is the priest-in-charge of Christ the Savior Mission.
Father Matthew, a native of Mississippi and graduate of St. Tikhon Seminary has been tending the spiritual needs of this rural community church since 2006. In that time the mission continues to grow and make an impact on the greater McComb community.
His Eminence was interviewed by the local McComb community paper, click here.
Upon their arrival in McComb, Great Vespers were served at Christ the Savior followed by fellowship with the mission faithful.Day Three
Sunday began with His Eminence entering the small but beautifully maintained church in McComb (a former Christian Science reading room.) after the Hours, His Eminence tonsured two readers two the subdiaconate. The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was celebrated for the first time in McComb with about 40 people in attendance.
After the Liturgy, the assembled gathered in the Church hall next door for fellowship and time with the Archbishop before he returned by car to Dallas.
For a photo essay of the visit of His Eminence to McComb, MS, click here.
(San Antonio, TX)
The ongoing beautification program at St. Anthony’s
continues with the Christ Pantocrator (All-Mighty) icon now completed. Being written by Mr. George Goutseve, a Bulgarian iconographer, the icon is now being readied for shipment from his Sofia, Bulgaria studio to the USA.
In addition to the Pantocrator a Platytera icon and that of two Angels will also adorn the ceiling of St. Anthony’s.
(Ft. Smith, AR)
The members of Sts. George and Alexandria Church
here continue the beautification of their Temple with the addition of the icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos which now graces the back wall church.
Written by DOS member John Lickwar, the large icon is he first mural of an entire plan to adorn the interior walls of Sts. George and Alexandria Church. The icon was written at Mr. Lickwar’s Houston studio and then transported on canvas to Fort Smith where it was secured to the wall.
(Fort Worth, TX) His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri was the keynote speaker at the DCE Conference held this past Saturday here at St. Barbara Church. Archbishop Dmitri spoke on the topic, “The Church’s Use of Scripture in Her Services.”
The one-day conference theme was “In The Beginning...” and utilized the book of Genesis as an example of how teachers and parents can present the Bible to various age and grade levels.
A second keynote address was given by Matushka Valerie Zahirsky entitled "How Genesis Can Help Our Kids Navigate Their World" and centered on influences from outside our Orthodox environment that challenge today’s youth and how the Church and the Fathers address them.
Workshops were also conducted including - "What? Who? When?" what to teach, who to teach it to, and when to teach the subject matter; "The Welcoming Classroom" showing how to create instructional, functional, and organized classrooms; "Creative Ideas for Home and Church School" giving hands on examples of activities and resources that are available at all age levels; and "Building a Thematic Lesson on Genesis" showing how to create a lesson plan, and why this tool is so valuable.
The conference was attended by faithful from many North Texas parishes who were greatly enriched by the presentations.
Matushka Christine Zebrun is a member of the DCE and is available as a resource person in the DOS. She can be reached at 817-346-6879 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Dallas, TX) Iconographer Vladimir Gygorenko continues his work on the new icons for the St Matthew Chapel of Holy Apostles Mission in Tulsa, OK. The icons of Christ and the Theotokos are nearing completion.
Two additional icons for the chapel iconostasis will complete the project in Tulsa with icons of St Matthew and St Mary of Egypt.
The Holy Apostle Mission is led by Priest Ambrose Arrington.
His Eminence Visits St Maximus in Denton
Archbishop Dmitri made his archpastoral visit to St Maximus the Confessor Mission
here. The mission is on the edge of the campus of the University of North Texas and is in the planning stages of a major building project.
A mission record 81 people were in attendance in the 450 sq ft. nave. He preached about idolatry, man worshipping the creature rather than the Creator, being man's fundamental sin, and how Christ came to bring man back to the worship of God and to conquer death, as evidenced in the raising of the widow of Nain's dead son.
After the Divine Liturgy His Eminence held his usual Question and Answer session fielding questions from the assembled faithful.
With the blessing of His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri, DOS Treasurer, Mr. Milos Konjevich, will provide The Diocese of the South with regular financial reports via the DOS website at its own website page (click here
). These reports can also be easily accessed from the DOS homepage by clicking the DOS Financial Report button
Quarterly diocesan financial reports as well as financial reports in preparation for our Assembly will be regularly offered. Other reports of interest will also me shared in an effort to promote good stewardship in the parishes and diocese.
Mr. Konjevich encourages questions and comments at email@example.com or 214-522-4149
Many of the faithful of the DOS have been asking for a King James version of the Psalter according to the Septuagint. In response to this we have added a .pdf version for personal use. It can be downloaded and printed but we ask that it not be reprinted for commerical purposes.Click here for download
The 2008 Orthodox Desk Calendar is now available through JD Publications. The 2008 calendar features the liturgical feasts, commemoration of saints, the tone of the week, and fasting cycles of the Orthodox Church according to the New Calendar. A new feature of this year's calendar are the commemorations of the feast days for the Old Calendar.
The Desk Calendar is formatted in folio size (8.5" x 11") providing ample space for daily notations.
Discounts are available for orders of multiple calendars. For ordering information click here.
While His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri gathers with his brother hierarchs in Syosset, NY today, the clergy, monastics and faithful of the DOS will gather in community as diocese to mark a day of prayer and fasting as requested by His Eminence, for the well-being of our Orthodox Church in America.
Moliebens, Akathists, weekday celebrations of the Divine Liturgy will all be served today in addition to people praying and fasting at home and at work.
Last week the DOS posted an on-line version of the Psalter
which is also an appropropriate way to keep today in prayer by reading the original prayerbook of the Church.
Phone calls, letters and emails from across the DOS and around the OCA have been sent to His Eminence in support for today’s day of prayer and fasting and for his public statement regarding the crisis on our Church.
The 83 year old Archpastor of the DOS left for New York yesterday with Milos Konjevich, DOS Treasurer. They are scheduled to return on Thursday evening.
There will be no additional postings on the DOS website today unless otherwise notified by His Eminence.
The DOS website is adding today a link to Priest Stephen Freeman's blog, Glory To God for All Things.
The Glory blog will have a button link from the DOS Homepage.
Father Stephen is a regular contributor to both Orthodox Christian News and Ancient Faith Radio.
We hope that you will find Fr. Stephen's daily blog offerings spiritually rewarding.
(Dallas, TX) The clergy of the South Central deanery met here yesterday for its regularly scheduled deanery meeting. The South Central deanery includes New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi.
The day began with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy at which Priest Seraphim Hipsh of St Sava Church in Plano, TX. preached. Following a light snack, the meeting began with His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri greeting the clergy and encouraged them to continue to seek new opportunities through the planting of new communities to spread the Gospel of Christ.
Archpriest, Basil Zebrun, dean of the South Central deanery conducted the meeting which focused on the clergy sharing their experiences with building projects and missionary outreach efforts.
The deanery welcomed its newest clergy member, Priest Paul Fetsko who is working as a full-time hospital chaplain and attached to Sts George and Alexander Church in Ft. Smith, AR.
A report on the recently concluded Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council meetings and His Eminence’s recent Archpastoral letter was also given in which questions were asked.
The North Texas Orthodox Missions organization (NTOM)
will sponsor a 2008 Pre-Lenten Retreat here at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church and St. Seraphim Cathedral Saturday, February 9 and 10.
Archimandrite Zacharias Zacharou is a disciple of Elder Sophrony (now reposed) who was a disciple of St Silouan from Mt Athos. Presently Archimandrite Zacharias is a monk at the monastery founded by Elder Sophrony, The Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of St. John the Forerunner, Tolleshunt Knights by Maldon, Essex, England.
Archimandrite Zacharias is the author of: The Enlargement of the Heart: "Be ye also enlarged" (2 Corinthians 6:13) in the Theology of Saint Silouan the Athonite and Elder Sophrony of Essex
In addition to Archimandrite Zacharias, the Retreat will also feature Dr. Christopher Veniamin, Professor of Patristics at Saint Tikhon’s Seminary. Click here for more information and registration form
The DOS has begun an exploratory mission outreach to the greater Austin/Round Rock, TX area. Archpriest Ted Pisarchuk, DOS Mission Coordinator is overseeing this effort in conjunction with the local mission members. We will keep you posted with any new developments as they come to our attention.
If you would like more information please go to the DOS Austin/Round Rock Mission Outreach, website.
(Mt. Pleasant, SC) This aerial picture of the temple in Mt. Pleasant, SC says it all! Praise God for all things!
(Dallas, TX) His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri asks the clergy and faithful of the Diocese of the South to remember the retired Archbishop of New York and New Jersey, Peter, in prayer. The news release from the OCA is as follows:
PRAYERS REQUESTED FOR ARCHBISHOP PETER
SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] -- Prayers are requested for His Eminence, Archbishop Peter, the retired Bishop of New York, Diocese of New York and New Jersey. His Eminence is in critical condition at Lawrence Hospital, Bronxville, NY. Clergy from the Diocese of
Washington and New York have maintained a close and prayerful watch at His Eminence’s bedside.
His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri travelled to Raleigh and Edenton, NC last weekend visiting Holy Transfiguration Church
and a new mission-station in the historic coastal town of Edenton.
Priest Edward Rommen, rector of Holy Transfiguration and the faithful greeted the Archbishop on Saturday at the Church where Great Vespers were celebrated. The Sunday Divine Liturgy was attended by over 90 faithful and afterwards His Eminence conducted his customary “Question and Answer” session. Over the years these informal sessions have done much to foster a sense of close connection between the faithful and their Archpastor.
After a wonderful fellowship hour the Archbishop packed up and got in the car for a two and one half hour drive to Edenton where the new mission-station dedicated to St. George the Great-martyr was dedicated. The building that will house the new mission is in fact the old railroad depot in Edenton. Thanks to the tireless efforts of the small but inspired group of Orthodox and inquirers, the mission has a bright future.
Upon his arrival Sunday afternoon the Archbishop served at an altar set up in the south garden of the old depot where the service for the blessing and naming of the new temple was conducted. His Eminence, the clergy and faithful then processed around the building and then inside each room and blessed and sanctified the property.
Following the service, the 34 present enjoyed the bountiful feast before His Emience retired for the evening at the beautiful and historic Lords Proprietors' Inn. The following morning the Archbishop enjoyed a full tour of historic Edenton, from Hayes Farm to Hicks Field, before his flight back to Dallas.
Picture Essay of Archpastoral Visit to Raleigh and Edenton, NC
Parishioners of St Seraphim Cathedral are in China for two months on business and have been sharing video of their trip with their family and friends back home.
The Smiths (Michael, Hui, John and Maximus) visit China twice yearly and have come across the church in Shanghai where St John Maximovich was a priest. The church under communism was used for many purposes other than a church.
Last week the Smiths visited the church again and it is being restored.
(Mt. Pleasant, SC)
Priest John Parker is sharing photos of the fast-paced construction here and we enjoy presenting them to all of you. Much detail work is now taking place: doors, exposed wood and beam, brick work, all consistent with an architectural goal of building a new temple that has the feel of it having been here for many years.Give God the Glory and enjoy the work being done here to give Him praise.
(Clinton, MS) Priest David Rucker, Associate Director of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center in St. Augustine, FL, will speak at Holy Resurrection Church, Clinton, Mississippi, the week after Thanksgiving, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights, November 27-29 at 7 p.m.
Fr. David, a priest of the Diocese of the South, grew up in China, the son of Protestant missionaries, and was himself a missionary there. After embracing Orthodox Christianity he founded St. Athanasius Orthodox Church in Nicholasville, Kentucky, and recently has returned to mission work -- recruiting, coordinating and supporting Orthodox missionaries all over the world through the Orthodox Christian Mission Center. Fr. David will speak on mission from our own hearts, where the ladder to God is, to others in our own parish and city, and to the whole world. The public is invited.
For more information call Fr. Paul Yerger at 601 924-2441 or email
For more information on Fr. David see http://www.ocmc.org/news.php?sub=news&action=topic&id=270
(Dallas, TX) The DOS Chancery office will be closed November 21 and reopen on Monday, November 26. If there is an emergency, please call the Chancery office and leave a voicemail.
His Eminence, Archbishop Peter, retired Archbishop of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey fell asleep in the Lord this morning. Funeral arrangements are now listed on the OCA website.
May His Memory Be Eternal!
DOS Treasurer Milos Konjevich is reporting the Year-To-Date Comparison Report by parish of Tithes and Assessment paid through November 19.
Already this year, Tithes and Assessments have surpassed last year's record performance. Total Tithe and Assessment income could pass the $500,000 level for the first time.
In addition, through the reporting date, DOS Parish Development support totals $139,879. Over $174,000 is
expected to be expended in 2008 DOS Parish Development support.Click here for the current report.
His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri travelled to far west Texas on November 27 and 28 to present a lecture on the Orthodox Christian Faith. A group of 30 people met at the Alpine Country Club to hear the presentation.
An enthusiastic group of Orthodox and those interested in the Orthodox faith contacted the Diocese of the South to inquire about the possibility of establishing a DOS mission in Alpine. Both “cradle” Orthodox and converts to the Faith make up the Alpine community who have a sincere desire to plant a local Church here.Alpine
, at an elevation of 4400 feet is nestled in the Davis Mountains
which surround the city of 5000 people. It is also the home of the Sul Ross campus of Texas State University.
Within a 100 mile radius of Alpine, communities total over 50,000 people. Currently the Orthodox of Alpine and the surrounding communities must travel 250 northwest to El Paso to attend church.
On Day Two of the visit to Alpine, His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri, Archpriest Joseph Fester and Mr. Milos Konjevich met with some of the local Orthodox who are seeking a blessing to start a mission-station in Alpine. The steps necessary to establish a mission were outlined and the response from the group was "we will do it!"
For more information on the Alpine Orthodox Outreach, please contact Christine Serkland at firstname.lastname@example.org
t or the DOS Chancery office at 214-522-4149 or email@example.com.
His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri has blessed the establishment of a new DOS mission station in the state capital of Alabama. Priest Timothy Ullmann, an Orthodox Military Chaplain assigned to nearby Maxwell Air Force Base is overseeing the development of the outreach.
"We already have 6 catechumens studying to enter the Orthodox Church and know that there are many others looking for the fullness of the Faith here in Montgomery" remarked Fr. Timothy.
The Montgomery Orthodox Mission Station is meeting at the Holy Cross Episcopal Chapel on the campus of Holy Cross Episcopal School. The Divine Liturgy on Sunday is being celebrated with additional services to be added.
For more information on the Montgomery Orthodox Mission Station, please contact Fr. Ullmann at (334) 356-9931 or visit the Mission Station’s website.
His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri returned from Jacksonville, FL last evening after spending the weekend at St Justin Martyr Church
. Priest Theodore Pisarchuk, rector of St Justin’s greeted His Eminence at Great Vespers on Saturday and assisted the Archbishop at the Divine Liturgy.
As is his customary practice, the Archbishop met with members of the parish after Great Vespers on Saturday night for a Question and Answer
session in which the faithful are free to ask any questions of their Archpastor. The questions asked centered on the life of the parish and the DOS.
An overflow crowd packed the church for the Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning. During the Liturgy Father Pisarchuk was elevated to the rank of Archpriest, Priest Sergius Clark was awarded the Nabedrenik and Reader James Nicholas was ordained to the sub-diaconate and the Holy Diaconate. Also serving were Archpriest Martin Ritsi and Priest David Rucker (attached to St Justin’s) from the Orthodox Christian Mission Center
, Hieromonk Arkady (Migunov) and Protodeacon Michael Malanowski from St Stephen’s the Protomartyr in Orlando.
Christ the Savior Cathedral here is being transformed with the arrival and installation of their new iconostatsis and icons. “We feel so blessed to have this iconostatsis and icons to offer up for the glory of God” stated Archpriest Philip Reese on recent trip to Dallas in which he reported on the progress to His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri.
The iconostatis was hand-crafted in Greece by master ecclesiastical wood carver Nikolaos Kremasmenakis while the icons are being written by Dmitry Shkolnik from California. The entire project will take four years to complete. We will keep you posted on the progress here on the DOS website. For additional pictures, visit the Christ the Savior website
His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri returned from New York last week, in the middle of the night, delayed due to bad weather in New York. The trip to New York ended a 20 day span where the Archbishop was on the road for 10 of those days visiting Tulsa, OK, Alpine, TX, Naples and Jacksonville, FL and Syosset, NY.
The Archbishop is finishing the last chapter of his commentary of St. John’s Gospel, and just in time since he received last night the final galley proofs from St Vladimir’s Press
of his commentary on the Book of Romans, due to be released in February 2008.
Fathers Marcus Burch and Thomas Moore returned from a 10 day pilgrimage to Greece and Mt. Athos. In October, Father Paul and Matushka Sissy Yerger spent 10 days in Greece. Speaking of Father Yerger, after many years of being a working priest, Father Paul will retire from his secular job and go “full-time” at Holy Resurrection, not that he was ever part-time at his parish!
Father Stephen Freeman, dean of the Appalachian Deanery reported to His Eminence that he had a very successful missionary tour of the Deanery and that new mission prospects in Clarksville, TN and Bowling Green, KY look very promising. His deanery clergy also gathered for a Nativity Fast retreat at the ROCOR monastery in West Virginia.
The St George Mission in Edenton, NC continues to make progress with a regular service schedule. You may remember the recent trip by His Eminence to Edenton to bless their new worship space, which was formally the old railroad depot in Edenton. Priest Andrew Davis is overseeing the liturgical needs of the community.
We are very happy to report that Father Edward Rommen who had a recent health scare when he collapsed at his parish, Holy Transfiguration
in Raleigh, NC, is just fine. He apparently had a reaction to some medications which sapped his blood of sodium. He is very grateful to everyone for their prayers.
Continuing on the Carolinas Deanery happenings, dean, Priest Marcus Burch, is working hard to develop the missions in his deanery. The mission in Wilmington, NC is making good progress, and, God-willing, could have a priest assigned in 2008. Father Paul Shellbach is helping to service our mission in Fayetteville, NC as well as Father Nikolay Miletkov, second priest in Greenville, SC also takes a regular turn at servicing missions in the Carolinas Deanery.
The Holy Spirit Church
in Venice, FL had a very successful Christmas Bazaar and outreach opportunity into the community on December 1. The parish, despite many difficult circumstances, is still growing due to the dedicated efforts of the laity to keep the parish open and positive. The parish income for the year is projected to be $80,000. Last year it was $27,000!
Speaking of Tithes, DOS Treasurer Milos Konjevich reports that the 11 month Tithes from DOS parishes to the Diocese total $440,854.00. This compares to $360,626.00 last year for 11 months. Total revenues to the DOS for the first 11 months of 2007 are $685,101.00 compared to $627,825.00 for first 11 months in 2006.
Another figure of note is that Missions and Parish Development Grants, that is income being reinvested back into our diocesan missions and parishes in 2007 has now reached $149,743.00.
New church construction continues in Mt. Pleasant, SC, Richmond, VA, Bradenton, FL, and Tulsa, OK, while plans for new churches are being developed in Denton, TX, Plano, TX, and Knoxville, TN. Father Ted Pisarchuk of St Justin Martyr in Jacksonville reports that as part of their 10 +/- acres of land, they have dedicated areas now for a sports field and a parish cemetery.
We welcome to the DOS two new clergy, Priest Paul Fetsko who is attached to Sts George and Alexander Church in Ft. Smith, AR and soon to be transferred into the DOS, Priest John Mikita who will be the priest-in-charge of St John Damascus Mission in Tyler, TX as of December 26, 2007. Also congratulations and Axios! to newly ordained Father Deacon James Nicholas attached to St Justin Martyr in Jacksonville.
The DOS Chancery office will be closed December 24, 25, 26 and reopen on December 27.
Please send in pictures of your Nativity celebrations to the DOS website. You can email them to “ firstname.lastname@example.org “
The Orthodox Christian Network
will begin featuring the homilies of Priest Matthew Jackson, priest-in-charge of Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church
in McComb, MS. Father Matthew has maintained a blog
where he has posted the texts of many of his homilies since being assigned to Christ the Saviour. This began as a way to make the homilies available to members of the parish who lived up to an hour and a half away and were not always able to make the drive to McComb for the Liturgy.
As a result, people began reading and responding to the homilies, and he recently received an email from OCN, stating that OCN would like to “syndicate your sermons a bit more widely.” This will begin with cross-posting them on the main OCN website, and in the future even looking into recording audio versions for internet distribution.
Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) is an agency of SCOBA which has been established to create a national, sustainable and effective media witness for the Orthodox Christian Church in North America.
Father Matthew joins Father Stephen Freeman, of St. Anne Church
in Oak Ridge, TN who also is a contributor to OCN and Ancient Faith Radio.
Father Freeman's blog, Glory To God For All Things is available via a link from the DOS website
We congratulate both Fathers Jackson and Freeman for making good use of the internet as an outreach tool to bring others to the saving message of Jesus Christ.
The following was printed today on the Editoral pages of the Dallas Morning News.
The Icon that Wasn't
A Christmas reminder that some things are sacred
Not long ago, Vladimir Grigorenko, the iconographer at St. Seraphim's Orthodox Cathedral in Oak Lawn, received a call from an editor at Time. Would Mr. Grigorenko create an icon for the magazine?
The image Time wanted was not one of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary or a saint. Time wanted an icon of Russian President Vladimir Putin. This was a problem. In Orthodox Christianity, icons are not mere images of holy figures and events. Icons are revered as sacred objects, as windows into the world of the divine.
Mr. Grigorenko, who converted to Christianity in his native Ukraine during the last days of the Soviet Union, instantly refused. When he told this story to an American friend, the startled American responded that Time was likely to name Vladimir Putin its Person of the Year.
"If that happens," the American said, "you just gave up the chance to illustrate the cover of the year's most important issue of one of the world's most important magazines. You would have been famous. You might have made a lot of money."
"What's that to me?" Mr. Grigorenko said dismissively. Holy things are for the holy. Compromise was impossible.
Last week, Time did name Mr. Putin its Person of the Year – and used not an icon but a photograph on its cover.
A small story, perhaps, but it tells a larger truth. Religion is everywhere in American public culture, especially in Dallas. In fact, Mr. Grigorenko loves raising his family here, because of this city's openness to religion. But that same celebration of faith – indeed, the celebration of all noble ideals – can too easily become profaned by commerce, by politics and by ordinary human ambition. Cynicism is not hard to come by.
And then you hear about someone like Mr. Grigorenko, raised in a communist home in the waning days of a totalitarian atheist empire, a man who knows from experience that fidelity to one's god and to one's ideals is a pearl of great price. With a simple act of refusal, he bears witness to the principle that, yes, some things are sacred – and that if our ideals mean anything, we must guard them no matter what the cost.
Piety can open the door to worldly wealth and power. It's not supposed to be that way. Today Christians celebrate the coming of a divine king, born in the lowest of circumstances, who taught poverty and humility as the way to salvation. He asked, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"
We still find ordinary men and women – of all faiths, and good-willed idealists of no faith at all – who hear the echo of that awesome question across the centuries and who tender the answer in their hearts. When the time of testing comes, they know what to say, for they've been living out the answer not just on special days but all year long.
Merry Christmas – or, as they say in Ukraine, Srozhdestyom Kristovym!
+ + +
CHRIST IS BORN! GLORIFY HIM!
The Feast of the Nativity of our Lord was celebrated across the DOS with greater than normal attendance being reported from clergy.
DOS finances are also greater than normal as the year draws to a close. As of the end of this week, over $481,000 in Tithes have been offered by the parishes, missions and mission stations in the Diocese. With December tithes not included in this figure, the DOS could eclipse the $500,000 in Tithes, which would be another record year! When one adds the OCA assessments into this figure, the total will be close to $700,000 in total income from Tithes and assessments.St. John the Wonderworker in Atlanta
held its annual “Christmas Dinner the Homeless” as part of the Atlanta area “Loaves and Fishes” outreach program to the Atlanta needy. St John’s is an inner city parish which feeds the homeless on a regular basis during the year but makes a big effort at Christmas to help those who need it the most.
Discussions with Southern Methodist University (SMU) here are continuing on how best to advance the DOS Pastoral School. SMU is very interested in working with the DOS on the project.Mission News
Alpine, TX has officially requested to be granted mission-station status in the DOS, the latest new mission outpost for the Diocese. The Chancery office will be sending the mission station the necessary materials for Reader services. His Eminence is very keen on advancing this mission station as God blesses!
Anniston, AL is being serviced by the Southeastern Deanery clergy with monthly services with an increase in that schedule being investigated. Please pray for the flock in Anniston.
St John Damascus Mission in Tyler is eagerly awaiting the arrival of their new priest, Fr. John Mikita. He is scheduled to arrive in the next couple of days.
St George Mission in Edenton, NC is adding Wednesday night Orthodox instruction classes to be led by Fr Timothy Creemens. Fr Andrew Davis leads the worship services for the mission.
The Valdosta, GA mission station took a unique approach to outreach when the parishioners created a float in the local Christmas parade. Hey, you never know who might respond!
Priest John Parker of Holy Ascension Mission in Mt Pleasant, SC has been writing a semi-regular column in Sunday edition of the Charleston, Post and Courier related to the Orthodox teaching on currents topics or seasonal events. He has also been asked to write a similar column for the Orthodox Christian Network.
Since the early days of the DOS, and recognizing the custom in this region of the USA that Wednesday night is “meeting night,” parishes in the DOS have offered mid-week services, usually Vespers. The liturgical rhythm of the Church during the Great Fast includes Wednesday and Friday celebrations of the Presanctified Liturgy, thus the pattern of midweek worship is also well known in the Orthodox Church. Continuing this weekly liturgical rhythm into the rest of the year is a foundational strength which girds the clergy and faithful in the DOS. More parishes in the DOS are adding additional weekly liturgical and educational opportunities to bring not only the members of the DOS but those interested in knowing more the Orthodox faith. Building News
The parishes and missions in Richmond, VA, Bradenton, FL, Safety Harbor, FL, Tulsa, OK, Edenton, NC, Mt Pleasant, SC, continue to make progress on the building and building out of their respective Temples. Please visit their websites for more pictures and details.
The parishes in Ft. Smith, AR, Christ the Saviour in Miami, FL, Tulsa, OK, and the Cathedral here in Dallas, are engaged in Iconography projects.2008 Diocesan Assembly
Please make your calendars and plan on attending the 2008 DOS Assembly to mark the 30th Year Anniversary of the DOS and in anticipation the 85th birthday of His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri. Here are the Planning Particulars!
- Place: Renaissance Hotel, Dallas, TX.
- Host Parish: St Seraphim Cathedral
Special Assembly Hotel Rates of $119/night include dates before and after the Assembly. The Plenary and Liturgical Services will be at the Cathedral. The Banquet and Clergy Wives Luncheon will be at the Renaissance. Additional Assembly schedule of events will be given in 2008.
(Dallas, TX) Priest William C. Mills, rector of The Nativity of the Virgin Mary Church in Charlotte, NC will publish his fifth book, Let Us Attend: Reflections on the Gospel of Mark for the Lenten Season.
The book is a collection of pastoral reflections on the gospel lessons from Mark that are read during Great Lent. Let Us Attend is a wonderful resource for personal and group Bible study, adult education classes, and sermon preparation.
Other books in this series include From Pascha to Pentecost: Reflections on the Gospel of John
(Rollinsford, NH: Orthodox Research Institute, 2005), Prepare O Bethlehem: Reflections on the Scripture Readings for Christmas-Epiphany
(Rollinsford, NH: Orthodox Research Institute, 2006), Baptize All Nations: Reflections on the Gospel of Matthew
(Rollinsford, NH: Orthodox Research Institute, 2007), A Light to the Gentiles: Reflections on the Gospel of Luke
(NY: iUniverse, 2007).
About the Author
Fr. Mills, Ph.D. in addition to being the rector of the Nativity of the Holy Virgin Orthodox Church is an adjunct professor of religious studies at Queens University in Charlotte, NC. His essays and book reviews have appeared in AGAIN magazine, The Orthodox Church of America Magazine, Cistercian Studies Quarterly, Pro Ecclesia, and Theological Studies.
Fr. Mills is available for clergy and parish retreats. For more information about his books or his speaking engagements please visit his webpage atwww.wcmills.com
Let Us Attend: Reflections on the Gospel of Mark for the Lenten Season
by William C. Mills
Publication Date: January 2008
Trade Paperback: $11.95
1-800-AUTHORS OR www.iuniverse.com
Discounts available for bulk orders and for parish bookstores
The Feast of Theophany was celebrated across the DOS on Sunday with many parishes blessing water at nearby rivers and lakes on the eve and day of the Feast. St. Paul the Apostle in Denison, TX and St Philip the Apostle in Tampa were two of many that witnessed to the Orthodox Faith in this beautiful rite.
Priest Michael Storozuk and the parishioners of St Paul the Apostle Orthodox Church
gathered at Waterloo Lake for the service of the Great Blessing of the Waters. Waterloo Lake is a natural spring fed body of water which is part of the Waterloo Park complex in Denison. Although the wind was fierce, the temperatures were moderate but most importantly an opportunity to witness for the Orthodox Faith was.
A similar scene was repeated in Tampa, FL on the banks of the Hillsborough River late Saturday afternoon when Priest Joseph Ciarciaglino and 19 members of St. Philip the Apostle Orthodox Church
gathered to celebrate the Great Blessing of Water beneath oaks and Sabal palms at Sulphur Springs Park.
Additional parishes that blessed water and sent in photos are below:
St John of the Ladder - Greenville, SC
(San Antonio, TX)
The church beautification program at Saint Anthony Church here has two new additions with the installation of the Pantocrator and Platytera icons on the ceiling of the church. The icons are 10' in diameter and were written by Mr. George Goutsev a noted Bulgarian iconographer.
For additional information and pictures of the new icons, click herewww.OrthodoxSanAntonio.org
(Dallas, TX) The financial strength of the DOS continues to deepen with Tithe figures for 2007 revealing a 25% increase over 2006. With still additional 2007 Tithes coming in, Milos Konjevich, DOS Treasurer, reports that $507,402 in DOS Tithes have been offered as of today. “This is an increase $102,575 over 2006, says Mr. Konjevich.”
The DOS does not have diocesan dues or assessments. Rather parishes and missions offer 10% of their monthly income to the diocese. Parishes and missions do pay the OCA assessment in addition to the DOS Tithe. The above figures do not include the OCA assessment.
Tithe income has increased by at least 25% in each of the last three years with 2005 Tithes totaling $298,000, 2006 totaling $404,000 and now $507,000 in 2007.
The power of these numbers is further reflected in the decision by the DOS at their last Assembly in Miami to "reinvest" 25% of diocesan income back to parishes and missions to further their development. DOS parishes who present a development proposal to the Chancery are considered for the development grants.
A final 2007 Parish Tithe Report will be posted on the DOS website by the end of January.
The SCOBA sponsored Orthodox Christian Network will hold “Share the Light Sunday” on January 20, 2008 to help foster awareness and financial support for the network and media witness for the Orthodox Church.
The OCN currently features three DOS clergy, Priests Stephen Freeman, John Parker and Matthew Jackson who contribute regular articles and other media to the network.
Additional information on “Share the Light Sunday” and promotional materials are available by visiting the OCN website.
In response to requests for liturgical texts in the Spanish language, the DOS website is creating a new Spanish Liturgical text page.
Music and text for the Divine Liturgy will be the first created with text and music for Vespers to be added in the near future.
For many years The Dawn,
the DOS newspaper, had a regular section of liturgical texts in Spanish prepared by Archbishop Dmitri. Those pages will be provided in .pdf format and will be announced as added.
For more information on liturgical texts in Spanish please contact the DOS webmaster.
Permission to download and copy for non commerical use is given by Archbishop Dmitri.
Priest John Mikita, the new priest-in-charge at St. John Damascus in Tyler, TX
has arrived to take up his new assignment. We welcome him, wife Christy, and children Alexander and Rachel to the DOS.
Deacon Philip Kontos, senior at St Tikhon Seminary will visit His Eminence Archbishop DMITRI this coming weekend to discuss his future in the DOS. It will be a busy weekend for both the Archbishop and Deacon Philip with the celebration of the Spanish Liturgy on Saturday morning, then a trip to Fort Worth and the Kimball Art Museum
for a showing of the Early Christian Art exhibit hosted by Metropolitan Isaiah of the Greek Archdiocese of Denver, then to Vespers at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church and finally a banquet.
On Sunday His Eminence will be off to St Paul Church
in nearby Denison, TX for the celebration of their 5th Anniversary. Deacon Philip will assist His Eminence at the Liturgy.
Last weekend, the Archbishop traveled to Christ the Saviour Cathedral
in Miami for the celebration of the Feast day. A meeting of the South Florida Deanery also was part of the weekend activities.
Priest Stephen Freeman, dean of the Appalachian Deanery recently traveled to Clarksville, TN and Bowling Green, KY to meet with local groups of Orthodox who wish to establish new DOS missions in those areas.
The St George Mission in Edenton, NC continues to make good progress as they convert the former Edenton train depot into worship and fellowship space. Weekly services are being conducted as well as Wednesday evening Adult Education classes.
Final Tithe Income figures for 2007 are in with a total of $512,000 in Tithe gifts offered to the DOS from diocesan parishes, missions and mission-station. That is a 25% increase over 2006 and when you consider the 37% increase in Tithe offerings from 2005 to 2006, the DOS has seen a 67% increase in Tithe gifts since the end of 2004!
The next issue of the Dawn will be online by the end of the month and mailed in print form by the beginning of February. This issue will continue the retrospective of the first 30 years of the DOS through the 1980’s. An added feature of the next issue will be a personal reflection on the life and work of His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri as it pertains to his 30 years as the spiritual leader of the DOS.
The recent annual “March for Life” in Washington, DC marking the 35th anniversary of the “Roe v. Wade” decision legalizing abortion was attending by Orthodox Christians from across North America including members of the Orthodox Church in America and the Diocese of the South. A crowd in excess of 200,000 was estimated by the US Parks Service.
Priest Joseph Ciarciaglino, rector of St Philip the Apostle in Tampa, FL
participated in the March along with Orthodox clerics and laity from across North America.
Priest Antonio Perdomo, rector of St George the Great-martyr Church in Pharr, TX
led the annual “Icon Bridges to Mexico” program during this most recent Theophany season. Father Antonio travelled to Mexico where icons collected from various parishes for throughout the OCA and other Orthodox Churches were delivered.
While in Mexico Father Perdomo visited various parishes and missions of the Mexican Exharcate including Holy Trinity Mission in Cuidad Lago, Mexico and the Cathedral of the Ascension in Mexico City where he assisted at the Divine Liturgy celebrated by His Grace, Bishop Alejo. Icons were delivered to both communities.
The Pilgrimage to Mexico also included visits to the Russian Patriarchate Church in Nepantla, the Coptic Church of Mexico in Morelos and the Monastery of St. Anthony the Great of the Antiochian Orthodox Church in Mexico.
In addition to the icons delivered to the OCA Mexican Exarchate, Patristic texts were given to the Monastery of St. Anthony the Great to be used in its Library and trapeza. In return, several books and litugical texts in Spanish were given to assist in the Hispanic outreach of St George Church in Pharr and the Diocese of the South.
For an extensive photo journal of the trip, and other outreach activities of St. George Church, click here.
His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri made an Archpastoral visit to St Paul the Apostle Mission
here yesterday to celebrate the 5th Anniversary of the founding of the community. Denison is located just south of the Red River near the Texas, Oklahoma border.
A large crowd of parishioners and friends of St Paul’s gathered to celebrate the Divine Liturgy with His Eminence. Father Deacon Philip Kontos, a senior at St Tikhon Seminary visiting his home diocese for the weekend to discuss his future service to the Church in the DOS assisted at the Divine Liturgy. After the service a joyous and appreciative fellowship meal was offered by the members of St Paul. Because of the size of the crowd the nave of the temple did double duty after the Liturgy serving also serving as the fellowship area where tables were set up.
Priest Michael Storozuk, priest-in-charge of the Mission not only help found the mission five years ago but was instrumental in the building of the current temple, much of which he did himself. Based on a plan sketched by St Jacob Netsvetov, the Alaskan missionary saint in the 19th century, St Paul’s was built in an amazing 13 weeks. “By God’s grace, faithful parishioners and local trades men who took a personal interest in the building of the temple, gave of their time and talents. Because of their faith in God and the vision of planting this Church here we were able to accomplish what some might call impossible,” remarked Fr Michael. “We are grateful for every thing God has given us.”
In remarking on the short history of the mission community, His Eminence stated “St Paul’s is a microcosm of the Diocese of the South in that once there was no Orthodox presence in this community and now there is. What has been done here has been repeated all over the South. This is what we do in this Diocese.”
Still a small community in numbers of parishioners, the mission continues to reach out to the greater Denison/Sherman region including towns along the Oklahoma side of the border.
Two updates have been posted to the DOS Financial Reports
section of the DOS website. The first is a listing of 2007 Tithes and Assessments
received from each Church and the second is a listing of 2007 DOS Financial Support to churches
- which also includes a partial January 2008 update.
DOS Tithe and Assessment receipts for 2007 were $511,118 and $192, 405, respectively. The Tithe receipts are more than twice the $250,937 that was realized in 2003. This dramatic increase in financial resources has had a profound impact on the ability of the DOS to fulfill its mission.
Financial support rendered to our churches totaled $55,655 in 2003. The number grew to $183,289 in 2007 and is now the second largest expense category, exceeded only by the $241,920 Membership Assessment obligation to the OCA. The 2008 DOS budget earmarks 25% of Tithes and Assessment receipts for this purpose, which means we'll surpass the $200,000 mark this year if the growth in receipts approximates the average of the past five years.
The scope of financial support available to DOS churches has been substantially broadened. The three-year DOS Church Planting Grant for new missions has increased from $10,000 to $12,000 per annum. Disbursements are made quarterly rather than monthly, and the mission has the option of "front-end loading" the annual payment amount if it can be shown that this would flatten the development.curve.
Payment of moving expenses of priests coming to the Diocese continues as usual, and a new feature has been added in 2008 whereby the Diocese will make the payments on his seminary-related debt.
The most far-reaching new initiative, however, is the DOS Church Development Grant, for which all DOS churches are eligible, regardless of size or age. The central objective of these grants is to shorten the time within which a church becomes a fully functioning parish, the basic elements being a proper Orthodox temple, a full-time priest(s), and a cadre of competent and dedicated lay workers and leaders. A prevailing need in the DOS is adequate facilities, and 52% of the $210,000 in Development Grant funds distributed thus far are building program related. The remainder can be broadly categorized as "Overall Budget Support." Application for a Church Development Grant may be made by letter, with accompanying copies of the budget and financial statements.
In addition to the above, the DOS currently has loans outstanding to six churches totaling $582,127, all of which are building program related. Of the total, $273,336 was used for property acquisition and church construction, $187,688 was for funding building cost overruns, and $121,103 was for the refinancing of bank debt. The interest rate on each loan is 4.5%. Repayment is to be made as financial circumstances allow; however, an important feature of our lending activity is that a church's monthly Tithe and Assessment payment is booked both as income and a payment on its debt.
Lending of this magnitude could not have been accomplished had not several churches and an individual entrusted funds to the DOS. These monies totaled $133,342 at year end 2006 and $459,862 at year end 2007, and are shown as "Custodial Funds" in the liabilities section of the Balance Sheet. Interest of 2% is paid on the $345,000 provided by the individual, and 4.25% to the churches. The repayment expectations of each "lender" is well established and can readily be met by our strong cash flow. Other churches have recently expressed an intent or interest is providing similar funding to the DOS. This is welcomed and such funds would be put to good use, but great care must be taken to ensure that we don't fall into the classic trap of using short-term liabilities to fund long-term assets.
General Fund net income for 2007 (preliminary) is $34,697. General Fund cash at year end 2007 was $226,234, compared to $203,541 at year end 2006. The full complement of 2007 financial reports will be posted sometime in February.
It continues to be a busy building week in the DOS with additional pictures
arriving today from Fr John Parker in Mt. Pleasant, SC and Priest David Arnold updating His Eminence on the building progress at St Cyprian of Carthage Church
in Richmond, VA.
Father David reports that the roof sheathing is almost complete, (pictured here) with shingles going on in about a week. The windows should arrive in two weeks. This will seal the building from inclement weather. HVAC ductwork will be installed over the next week. Final slab floor features will be poured this week, allowing the sanctuary and sacristy platform to be installed, as well as the porch slab on the west end of the building.
Related to the building progress, Fr. Arnold also informed His Eminence that attendance at the Divine services continues to increase with an average of 21 for Great Vespers and 51 for Divine Liturgy (adults and children). Last week 69 souls worshipped at St Cyprian’s.
Father Matthew Jackson, priest-in-charge of Christ the Savior Mission
in McComb, MS has also been conducting OCF outreach work in Hattiesburg, MS. with the eventual goal of a new mission in Hattiesburg. The first vespers at the OCF was held on January 24 with 44 people in attendance. The next Vespers will be February 7th. Please keep Father Matthew and the outreach work in Hattiesburg in your prayers.
Deacon Philip Kontos, senior at St. Tikhon Seminary
visited Dallas last weekend and spent a busy three days with His Eminence. Deacon Kontos is from the DOS and hopes to return to the DOS after graduation.
Dallas will be the site for three retreats in the next few months. The first will be next weekend when Elder Zacharias (the spiritual son of Archimandrite Sophrony who was the spiritual son of St Silioun of Mt .Athos) will lead a retreat at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Dallas on Saturday, February 9 and then will be at St Seraphim Cathedral on Sunday, February 10 where he will preach. On April 5, Mother Gabriella of the Dormition of the Mother of God Orthodox Monastery will lead a women’s retreat on: Women of the Cross (How can we become Women of the Cross). This retreat will again be at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Dallas. Then one week later, Igumen Jonah (Paffhausen) of St John the Wonderworker Monastery in Manton, CA will lead a retreat at St Seraphim Cathedral on April 12. More details on the April retreats will be posted on the DOS website.
His Eminence will leave for Atlanta tomorrow to visit St John the Wonderworker Church
on Saturday, April 1 and St Mary of Egypt Church
on April 2. Before arriving in Atlanta, His Eminence will make a planned and inportant stop in Tuscaloosa, AL to visit Priest Demetrius Edwards and the faithful of St Gregory the Great Church. Actually, the visit will take place in nearby Moundville, AL where His Eminence will inspect land and buildings that the parish is considering to buy. This purchase would be a tremendous boost to the Orthodox witness in that region of Alabama. Please pray for Fr Edwards and his flock as they consider this step in the life of their parish.
In addition to serving the Divine services at both churches in Atlanta, His Eminence will also be briefed on the possibility of assigning a priest to St Luke Mission in Anniston, AL.
Speaking of missions, Priest Ted Pisarchuk, DOS Mission Director, recently made two very successful mission trips to Montgomery, AL
and Round Rock (north of Austin,) TX.
Fr Ted reports that both locations show great promise for missionary growth and development. Please keep these communities in your prayers.
Archpriest Paul Lazor, retired from many years at St. Vladimir Seminary
, will be part of the 30th Anniversary celebration of the DOS at the upcoming Diocesan Assembly in June 08 in Dallas. More Assembly details will be posted on the DOS website.
Speaking of SVS, they expect to release His Eminence’s Commentary on Romans, next week. Check with the SVS Bookstore
directly for more details. And yes, His Eminence has finished his Commentary on John and is pondering his next project which may be a rework and expansion of his Commentary on the Epistle of James, which ran in serial format in The Dawn several years ago.
Many thanks to all of you who have commented on the latest DOS Financial Reports
posted by DOS Treasurer Milos Konjevich. The DOS finances are strong and the trend seems to be holding as the Tithes for January 08 coming in this week are very strong. Additional financial reports will be posted on the DOS website in the next couple of weeks.
For this and all things, we give Thanks and Glory to God.
Readers Tonsured in Atlanta
Readers Tonsured in Atlanta
His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri made Archpastoral visits this past weekend to St John the Wonderworker and St Mary of Egypt Churches in Atlanta which included an important stop at St Gregory the Theologian Mission in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The Archbishop travelled to Tuscaloosa and Atlanta with DOS Treasurer Milos Konjevich and Archpriest Joseph Fester of the DOS Chancery Office.Day One
After many years in rented facilities, Priest Demetrius Edwards and the faithful of St Gregory were forced to leave their location. This meant that the community would have to find another rented location. However the move also focused the attention of the community on seeing if they could purchase land and build their a Church. After several months of searching a property in nearby Moundville, AL was found. With an exisiting building on the land and several additional acres also ready for the building of a permanent Temple, His Emiennce inspected the land and building on Day One of the trip. The exisiting building will be suitable for all the needs of the St Gregory the Theologian faithful with ample land in front of the existing structure to build Church in the future. Day Two
The day began with the celebration of the Festal Divine Liturgy at St John the Wonderworker Church
in downtown Atlanta. Priest Jacob Myers greeted His Eminence along with Archpriest Peter Smith of St Mary’s in Atlanta. His Eminence tonsured two sub-deacons, Niphon Wallace and Herman Cowan. Niphon is a doctoral candidate in Theology at Emory University. His Eminence preached on the the Feast of the Meeting of our Lord, (click here to listen.
) At the conclusion of the Liturgy, the parish hosted a wonderful brunch and a packed hall of parishioners who had a stimulating “Question and Answer” session with the Archbishop.
In the evening His Eminence attended Great Vespers at St Mary of Egypt Church in Norcross, GA
(north suburb of Atlanta) where again the local parish hosted a dinner with a “Question and Answer” session with the Archbishop.Day Three
The final day of the trip began with the Divine Liturgy being celebrated at St. Mary’s. At the Liturgy, Priest Cyprian DuRant was awarded the Kamilavka. Fr DuRant is the assistant pastor at St Mary of Egypt. After lunch, His Eminence departed for Dallas after a most rewarding weekend.
The date for the consecration of Holy Ascension Orthodox Church in Mt Pleasant, SC has been set for Saturday, May 24, 2008. This is also the weekend for the famous Charleston, SC “Spoleto Music and Arts Festival.” Thus rooms in the greater Charleston area will be at a premium.
If you are considering traveling to Charleston for the consecration, please email Priest John Parker at “email@example.com” for reservation information. Also please find here
that latest a dramatic photos of Holy Ascension.
New Icons in Ft Smith, AR
New Icons in Ft Smith, AR
Orthodox from North Texas and beyond will gather this weekend in Dallas to participate in a retreat led by Archimandrite Zacharias Zacharou
of the Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Tolleshunt Knights, Malden Essex, England, and Dr. Christopher Veniamin, Professor of Patristics at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. Archimandrite Zacharias was a disciple of Elder Sophrony, who the founder the Monastery and disciple, biographer and compiler of the works of St. Silouan the Athonite. Archimandrite Zacharias has written The Enlargement of the Heart: “Be ye also enlarged” (2 Corinthians 6:13) in the Theology of Saint Silouan the Athonite and Elder Sophrony, Archimandrite Zacharias will be at St Seraphim Cathedral this Sunday and preach at the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy.
One of the DOS parishes got a real scare last week when wind whipped flames raced across the former barracks and outbuildings of now closed Fort Chaffey Army Base. The fire destroyed over 100 structures on the former base. SS. George and Alexandria Orthodox Mission in Ft. Smith took advantage of the base closure and bought land and buildings from the US Government to relocate to and provide a permanent Church home. All of that, however, was threatened last week when fire raced across the base and a transformer exploded next to the Church. “It was such a blessing that our iconographer John Lickwar and two of the men in the Church were present when the fire broke out” recounts Fr. John Maxwell, of SS. George and Alexandria. “While the fire trucks were dealing with the major fire and second fire broke out on Church property, one of our members drove down to get a fire truck and they could only send one man. They had Victor drive the fire truck and the fire was put out. If they were not there our Church building would probably have been lost.” Roof damage was sustained to both buildings of the church complex but the parish is working with their insurance adjuster to remedy the damage.
As Fr Maxwell stated, while all the excitement was happening on the outside of the Church, there was great excitement happening on the inside as new icons were being installed by John Lickwar (see pictures above.) We thank God that no one was hurt and that the church was spared.
Fr Stephen Freeman, dean of the Appalachian Deanery and rector of St Anne Church in Nicholasville, KY reports that Subdeacon Ed (Innocent) Krieg's was notified by the OCA Diaconal Vocation Program that he passed his writing exams “with flying colors.” The DVP use to be called the Late Vocations Program, and in this case “late” is an apt term because the good Subdeacon Innocent is 74 years young! Arrangements for his ordination to the Holy Diaconate are being planned.
One of many pleasant experiences from His Eminence’s recent trip to Atlanta was the decision to ordain to the Holy Priesthood, Deacon Basil Henry (graduate of St. Tikhon Seminary.) God-willing, Deacon Basil after his ordination will be assigned to St Luke Mission in Anniston, AL.St. Cyril of Jerusalem Mission
in The Woodlands, TX (suburb of Houston) has received a DOS Planting Grant. Priest Basil Biberdorf (graduate of St. Vladimir Seminary) is actively working to secure a new worship location so that the mission can reach out to more people. Several properties are being considered and His Eminence is very encouraged by the recent growth and renewed spirit in the mission.
The new mission-station in Alpine contacted the DOS chancery this week to set up a monthly schedule of priest visitations to the mission-station. Chris Serkland (the sister of the late Fr John Platko) is one of the mission coordinators. The community is conducting Reader Services and doing what they can to further the exposure of the mission-station in Alpine, TX.
His Eminence would like to start monthly services no later than next month.
His Eminence will travel to Orlando, FL. next weekend to be at St Stephen the Protomartyr Church
. Father Mark Steven, is rector and also dean of the Central Florida deanery. Continuing his visitation schedule, His Eminence will travel to Holy Cross Mission in Greensboro, NC
March 1-2 to meet with Carolinas Deanery clergy and make an archpastoral visit to our new mission in Greensboro being led by Priest Christopher Foley (SVS). Holy Cross continues to experience consistent growth and vitality. Check out their new website!
Archbishop Dmitri hosted a “Welcome to Texas and the DOS” gathering at his home this week to officially welcome Priest John Mikita, his wife Christy, and their children Rachel and Alexander to the DOS. DOS clergy, clergy wives and kids, enjoyed the get-together and the opportunity to welcome the Mikita’s. Fr John is the new priest-in-charge of St. John Damascus Mission in Tyler, TX.
Priest David Arnold of St Cyprian of Carthage Church
in Richmond gave His Eminence an update on the rapid pace of their building program. “The shingle crew was on the site Sunday afternoon, so we were surprised to see the shingles in place” reports Fr David. The community is very excited as they can now see “the shape of things to come” as the church moves toward completion.
DOS Treasurer Milos Konjevich has revised upward the 2007 DOS Tithe and Assessment figures previously reported on this site as additional 2007 income flows into the Chancery here. As of today, 2007 DOS Tithe Income totals $521,291.66
while OCA Assessment income totals $ 195,538.69 for a new grand total of $716,830.35!
In closing, His Eminence will be interviewed by OCN, the online Orthodox Christian Network
on a series of topics to be serialized by the station. A variety of topics will be discussed by the Archbishop including his just about to be released Commentary on Romans and questions about "justification by faith alone,” St Paul’s approach to Scriptures, what is the real meaning of St. Paul's words about "predestination" and of course His Eminence approach to missions and the missionary imperative of the Church. Check the OCN website later in February and March for when these interviews will air.
The new church nearing completion in Safety Harbor, FL is being adorned by icons being written by Elias Damianakis. Archpriest Peter Tutko, rector of Holy Trinity Church and the parish faithful are planning a Door Opening on Saturday, February 16 with several clergy from the Orthodox Brotherhood of Tampa bay will participate. A related article on the iconographic work talking place at Holy Trinity can be viewed here
His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri and the St Seraphim Cathedral clergy and faithful were honored today by the visit of the Archimandrite Zacharias of the Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of St John the Baptist located in the small village of Tolleshunt Knights in Essex, England. Elder Zacharias travelled to the USA to speak at the clergy conference of the Antiochian Archdiocese diocese of the West earlier this week before coming to Dallas to lead a one-day retreat hosted by the North Texas Orthodox Missions
group at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church.
Large crowds at both Dallas venues greeted Archimandrite Zacharias who were blessed to hear his prepared presentations and his wise consul via questions offered by clergy and laity. At St Seraphim Cathedral the Elder offered the homily on the desire of Zachaaeus to see Christ even to the point of shame and ridicule by others, yet in overcoming these insults of the world he received salvation and that of his whole household.
Archimandrite Zacharias is the author of two recent books published by Mt. Tabor Publishing, The Enlargement of the Heart
and The Hidden Man of the Heart
. Both books are an outgrowth of the life long experience of the Elder Zacharias who is the spiritual son of the Elder Sophrony,(1896-1993) the founder of the St. John the Baptist Monastery in Essex. The Elder Sophrony was the disciple of St. Silouan the Athonite (1866-1938). Thus his teachings are part of an unbroken chain of spiritual teachers of two great Fathers of the Church.
The visit of Elder Zacharias afforded His Eminence Dmitri and the Archimandrite to renew aquaintences after 40 years when they first met each other in Paris, France.
Archimandrite Zacharias will next travel to St Tikhon Monastery and Seminary before returning to England on Friday
Mother Gabriella, Abbess of the Dormition of the Mother of God Monastery in Rives, Jct. MI will lead a retreat for women on the topic of "WOMEN OF THE CROSS" on Saturday, April 5, 2008.
The retreat is being sponsored by the Ladies Philoptochos Society of Holy Trinty Greek Orthodox Church here. For additional information including the Retreat Flyer and Registration information, click here.
(Dallas, TX) His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri returned from Orlando, FL yesterday after making an archpastoral visit to St Stephen the Protomartyr Church. Archpriest Mark Stevens, rector of St Stephen and the dean of the Central Florida Deanery greeted His Eminence, who was accompanied by Subdeacon Vladimir Grigorenko from St Seraphim Cathedral.
After the Vigil service on Saturday evening, the Archbishop was the guest at a dinner with the parish council members and clergy at the home of one of the parish members. An informal question and answer session by the parishioners with His Eminence about the life of the parish were exchanged including the plans for St Stephen to build a new church.
A large crowd attended the Sunday Divine Liturgy and an extended fellowship hour concluded the visit in which the Archbishop was able to talk with most of the gathered faithful.
(Dallas, TX) His Eminence is preparing for his first visit to Holy Cross Mission
in Greensboro, NC this coming weekend. Priest Christopher Foley is preparing the growing mission community for the visit. “We are all very excited and want His Eminence first visit to be memorable” commented Fr Foley. “It is a big step for us to host our Archpastor.” Along with the visit to Holy Cross, His Eminence will meet with the clergy of the Carolinas Deanery and be updated on their missionary work.Holy Trinity Church
in Safety Harbor, FL celebrated their first Divine Liturgy on February 16th. The “Door Opening” as Archpriest Peter Tutko called it, was a joyous event with many clergy and laity from the greater Tampa/St Petersburg area in attendance. Please keep in your prayers the iconographer Elias Damianakis who is writing the icons for Holy Trinity. He was recently diagnosed with cancer.
His Eminence deactivated the St Michael Mission in Houston earlier this month in an effort to consolidate our missionary efforts from St Cyril of Jerusalem Mission
in The Woodlands (a suburb of Houston). Many of the faithful from the St Michael Mission were present at St Cyril’s last Sunday and were welcomed by Priest Basil Biberdorf and the mission faithful. Priest John Filipovich the former priest-in-charge of St Michael’s is now attached to St Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas. His Eminence and Archpriest Basil Zebrun, dean of the South central Deanery will visit St Cyril’s for the patronal feast day on Tuesday, March 18 where the Liturgy of the Pre sanctified Gifts will be celebrated followed by a lenten meal and fellowship with the Archbishop.
Speaking of the Cathedral in Dallas, the scaffolding is up again and the dome is now ready for the writing of the Pantocrator and the Prophets to be completed, God willing, by the time of the DOS Assembly in Dallas at the end of June. A special DOS Assembly 08 webpage is being finished in conjunction with the Renaissance Hotel in Dallas which will host the events. Reservations via the special Assembly webpage should be available in the next 10 days.
For the past 25 years, St Barbara’s in Fort Worth
has held its annual Pysanky Festival. Last year nearly 1000 people for the Fort Worth area attended the Festival, which has turned into quite a local event. Click here for more information.
The St George Mission in Edenton, NC reports that they will soon receive relics of St John of Kronstadt, a generous gift from one of their mission faithful. This small mission in the historic coastal town of North Carolina is remodeling the town’s old railroad depot and turning it into its Temple, fellowship and meeting space.
Another mission in the DOS is also turning an old fire academy into its new Temple, fellowship and meeting space. St Gregory Mission in Tuscaloosa, AL is purchasing a 6000 sf building plus an additional 3+ acres which will be the site for their permanent Temple in the future.
The DOS was featured at the recently concluded Missionary Conference sponsored by the Diocese of the West.
Priests Marcus Burch, John Parker, Joseph Ciarciaglino, Basil Biberdorf and DOS Mission Coordinator Fr Ted Pisarchuk were in attendance and shared their many and varied missionary experiences with the other missionaries at the event. This annual event brings missionary clergy and laity together at the Life-Giving Spring Retreat Center in Boulder City, NV to help equip missionaries in their work. Congratulations to all who attended from the DOS and to Bishop Benjamin and the Diocese of the West for providing this yearly gathering.
One of the newest missionary outposts in the DOS will be holding its first Vespers and Divine Liturgy during March. The Alpine Mission Outreach in Alpine, TX will be visited by a very special cleric of the DOS to launch the new mission outpost. More details to follow.
His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri will concelebrate the Divine Liturgy with His Eminence, Metropolitan Isaiah of the Greek metropolis of Denver here at St Seraphim Cathedral on the first Sunday of the Great Fast. Later that day, Archbishop Dmitri and Metropolitan Isaiah will be joined by Bishop Basil of the Antiochian Archdiocese Mid-America Diocese for the celebration of the Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Dallas.
All three hierarchs have a close working relationship with each other borne out of years of cooperation and respect. This example has promoted close cooperation between Orthodox parishes in the North Texas area. Local organizations such as the North Texas Orthodox Mission
(NTOM) is one example of Orthodox cooperation to promote the spread of the Faith.
Annually, His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri hosts the local Dallas metroplex Orthodox clergy and their families at his home during Bright Week. The clergy and their families also gather with His Eminence after the Feast of the Nativity each year through the effort of the local Orthodox Clergy Brotherhood on North Texas.
Recently the NTOM sponsored the visit of Elder Zacharias from England in cooperation with the Orthodox Clergy Brotherhood. The NTOM with the OCB also sponsor the Festival of Orthodoxy which brings prominent Orthodox clergy and lay speakers to Dallas for presentations of various aspects of the Faith.
On a recent visit to Dallas, Metropolitan Isaiah hosted Archbishop Dmitri at the St Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Forth Worth during an exhibition of early Christian Art at the Kimball Art Museum. Both hierarchs toured the exhibit followed by Great Vespers at St Demetrios and then a banquet.
Later this year the Antiochian Mid-America Diocese Parish Life Conference will be held in Dallas with Bishop Basil presiding. An invitation to all Orthodox clergy has been extended to be at the Divine Liturgy at the Conference and to participate in other events.
The Divine Liturgy on Orthodoxy Sunday at St Seraphim Cathedral will start at 9:30AM and the Orthodoxy Sunday Vespers at Holy Trinity will begin at 6:00
Reminder: Daylight savings time resumes at 2 a.m. Sunday. Clocks are set ahead one hour.
(Dallas, TX) The Great Fast began here last night with the celebration of Vespers and the Rite of Forgiveness. Over 100 people attended the Cathedral here and similar participation took place across the DOS.
His Eminence led the Rite of Forgiveness by confessing his sins to those assembled and asked each to forgive him. He preached on the absolute necessity that we not only forgive one another but that our very Christian identity must be grounded in a spirit of forgiveness, in charity, and incarnating the Christian virtues. “It is not enough for us to simply “agree” about forgiveness, but we must live it and practice it daily,” the Archbishop said. “The Rite of Forgiveness gives us a concrete example of facing one another and truly asking to be forgiven and to forgive.”
The Cathedral in Dallas will celebrate the Great Canon of St Andrew of Crete Monday-Thursday this week with the celebration of the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts on Friday evening.
His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri made his first archpastoral visit to Holy Cross Mission in Greensboro, NC the weekend of March 1 and 2. His Eminence arrived in Greensboro on Friday, February 29 accompanied by Deacon Steven Kroll of St Seraphim Cathedral.
Saturday morning was occupied with a deanery meeting of the Carolinas Deanery. Priest Marcus Burch, dean gathered the clergy in Greensboro to brief His Eminence on the missionary activities of the deanery while the clergy shared with each other their ongoing efforts to share the Gospel.
Saturday evening the Archbishop attended Great Vespers at Holy Cross while a full hierarchical Divine Liturgy with vesting in the center of the Church was celebrated on Sunday. At the Liturgy, John Hays (graduate of SVS) was tonsured a reader and subdeacon and Daniel and Nicholas Kowalcheck were tonsured readers. Subdeacon John is scheduled to be ordained to the Holy Diaconate in May.
The fast growing Holy Cross Mission rents space from a local Greensboro Presbyterian Church which has been turned into worship and fellowship space. The mission will rent additional space to accomodate their growing religious education needs and office space for Fr. Foley.
For a complete photo essay of His Eminence’s trip to Greensboro, click here.
(Atlanta, GA) St John the Wonderworker Church
in downtown Atlanta and on the edge of the heavily damage “Cabbage Town” section of Atlanta, narrowly missed damage by less than 100 yards last night as a F-2 Tornado slammed into the city center here.
“We were spared” explains Priest Jacob Myers, rector of St. John’s. “The Cabbage Town neighborhood, which we are right next to, was heavily damaged but all we suffered was a power outage.”
Being a downtown parish, St. John’s has a daily meal ministry to the urban poor in Atlanta and a parish school. Both ministries will be able to continue without disruption due to the storm.
The unity of the Orthodox faith is proclaimed on the first Sunday of the Great Fast commonly known as the Sunday of Orthodoxy or the Triumph of Orthodoxy. On Sunday at St Seraphim Cathedral and then later in the evening at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Dallas, that unity in a bond of love was visible.
His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri hosted His Eminence, Metropolitan Isaiah of the Greek Metropolis of Denver and His Grace, Bishop Basil of the Antiochian Archdiocese Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America as the hierarchs concelebrated the Divine Liturgy at St Seraphim Cathedral and then the Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers at Holy Trinity.
Large crowds at both events bore witness to the genuine cooperation that exists amongst the Orthodox clergy and faithful in the greater Dallas/Ft Worth metroplex.
At the Divine Liturgy, His Grace Bishop Basil preached
a powerful sermon on the necessity for Orthodox to bear witness to the Truth that is in the Person of Jesus Christ. His Eminence, Metropolitan Isaiah later in the day at Orthodoxy Vespers continued the theme of standing firm in the Faith by not compromise ourselves and therefore our witness to Christ by the subtly and not so subtle messages we are daily bombarded with in our culture.
“What a joy it is to see these three bishops genuinely love and like each other. The peace that was present at the Divine Liturgy was a powerful witness to the bond of unity that can only come when ‘brothers dwell in unity” commented a St Seraphim parishioner. “In this day when there is so much rancor and bitterness in the Church and the world, it gives one hope to see ‘perfect love casting out fear.’”
God willing, the three hierarchs will gather next year in Wichita, KS at the see of Bishop Basil to celebrate the Sunday of Orthodoxy and again the next year in Denver.
His Eminence has blessed a DOS-wide effort to help Bishop-elect Jonah set up his new home.Click here for more details.
His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri has invited Igumen Jonah (Paffhausen) to lead a lenten retreat here the weekend of April 11-13 on the theme, “Three Spiritual Principles and the Path To Prayer- Do Not Resent, Do Not React, Keep Inner Stillness.”
Igumen Jonah is the Abbot of St. John the Wonderworker Monastery
in Manton, CA (Diocese of the West-Orthodox Church in America.) He is a graduate of St. Vladimir Seminary. He has held various retreats across the USA and was the recent guest speaker at the Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers in Minneapolis, MN
The Lenten Retreat will begin on Friday, April 11 at 5pm with the Presanctified Liturgy followed by the first retreat session at 7pm. Saturday will begin with the Divine Liturgy at 8:30am, followed by a light lenten meal. Two sessions will be held on Saturday, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, with Vigil at 5pm.
Igumen Jonah will preach on Sunday evening at the Dallas area Lenten Vespers hosted by St .Seraphim Cathedral.
For more details and registration information, click here (updated)
Holy Ascension Mission in Mt Pleasant, SC moved into its new temple on the first Sunday of the Great Fast. With the blessing of His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri, the Divine Liturgy began at the storefront church/bookstore that the mission has been using for the past several years. At the Little Entrance, Priest John Parker, assisted by Archpriest John Breck and Deacon James Mark Barna led the procession to the new temple.
The faithful of Holy Ascension took icons off the walls and carried them to the new temple which is a short walk from their current location. The entrance was made and the Divine Liturgy concluded at glorious new temple.
His Eminence is scheduled to consecrate the new edifice May 23 and 24, 2008. Details on the consecration will be shared here on the DOS website.
For a gallery of photos of the Sunday of Orthodoxy procession in Mt Pleasant, click here.
For a look back at the worship locations for Holy Ascension since its founding, click here.
To read yesterday's article on Holy Ascension in the Charleston newspaper, click here.
Three Hierarchs in Dallas
Three Hierarchs in Dallas
Sunday of Orthodoxy in Safety Harbor
Sunday of Orthodoxy in Safety Harbor
New Church Rises in Richmond
New Church Rises in Richmond
As reported earlier on the DOS website and also reported on the respective websites of the Greek Metropolis of Denver and the Antiochian Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri hosted both Metropolitan Isaiah and Bishop Basil at St. Seraphim Cathedral here and concelebrated the Divine Liturgy for the Sunday of Orthodoxy. His Eminence later commented that “this is a crowning memory for me to have my dear brothers in Christ and friends celebrate the Divine Liturgy together.”
That same day in the evening the three hierarchs with Orthodox clergy from the Dallas-Fort Worth area gathered for the celebration of Orthodoxy Vespers with a huge crowd of worshippers at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church.Sunday of Orthodoxy in Safety Harbor
- Archpriest Peter Tutko and the faithful of Holy Trinity Church in Safety Harbor are already making good use of their new temple by hosting the Sunday of Orthodox Vespers for the greater Tampa/St Petersburg area. Another large gathering of clergy and faithful celebrated the Triumph of Orthodoxy.
Mission NewsMontgomery, AL
- Peter Timothy Ullman sent a lengthy report to His Eminence on the progress of the DOS mission station in Montgomery, AL. The mission is growing, has new catechumens and is looking for land in the suburbs of Montgomery.Round Rock, TX
- Priest Thomas Ledford will travel to Round Rock this Sunday to meet with the mission-station members to continue organizing their efforts to plant a new mission in Round Rock which is north of the Texas capital of Austin.
Alpine, TX - The mission station will have its first Great Vespers and Divine Liturgy this weekend. Archpriest Joseph Fester will travel to Alpine to conduct the services. His Eminence was scheduled to serve the first services in Alpine, but the special session of the Holy Synod to be held this Thursday changed those plans.Richmond Building Update
- Priest David Arnold reports that their new temple is moving along nicely and the photos he has shared prove him right. The community is now looking at dates to have their new temple consecrated.Greensboro Mission expanding
- The Holy Cross Mission in Greensboro, NC which currently is renting space from a local Presbyterian Church is expanding to rent additional space from their Presbyterian friends to include rooms for Sunday School and an office for Priest Christopher Foley.
Mt Pleasant, SC - Holy Ascension Mission is finally in their new temple with a glorious procession from their old location to their permanent church. The consecration is scheduled form May 23-24 weekend.
Other News of Note
Hotel Reservations for the 2008 DOS Assembly- can now be made online by clicking this link which will take you directly to the hotel website
which includes the special DOS hotel code so you can receive the Assembly rate of $119 per night. Everyone is encouraged to reserve your rooms as soon as possible.
Igumen Jonah Paffhausen, abbot of St John the Wonderworker Monastery in Manton, CA will lead a Lenten Retreat at St Seraphim Cathedral the weekend of April 11-13. For more information, scroll down to the recent Latest News Story on the DOS website.
Archpriest Ted Pisarchuk is traveling to Guatemala to minister at the Hogar Orphanage. Father Ted is active with the Orthodox Christian Mission Center and has served on the Board for many years.
Archpriest Ted Panchak the longtime priest at Dormition of the Theotokos in Norfolk, VA has been granted retirement by His Eminence effective September 1, 2008. The community will be looking to Dean Stephen Freeman to assist them in their development plan to expand the witness of the parish.
Tornado in Atlanta- The St John the Wonderworker Church in Atlanta narrowly missed being hit by a tornado that struck downtown Atlanta last week. The neighborhood around the church received heavy damage, but the church was spared.
Speaking of bad weather - Dallas was hit with rains of “biblical proportions” last week causing His Eminence's trip to The Woodlands and St Cyril of Jerusalem Mission to be cancelled. The trip was also going to include a visit with Bishop Peter of ROCOR who was to hold a retreat for his clergy in Houston, however that retreat was cancelled because of the death of Metropolitan Lauras.
Two Communities- in the DOS reached milestones recently when St Mary Magdalene in Rincon, GA
was granted Church status and St John of Damascus in Tyler, TX
was granted Mission status by His Eminence.
His Eminence - extends his prayers and condolences to the family of the newly-departed Archpriest Eugene Vansuch who fell asleep in the Lord suddenly last Sunday evening. Father Eugene was known to many of the clergy in the DOS who studied at St Tikhon Seminary and were instructed by Father Eugene who taught there. May his Memory be Eternal!
After 19 years of sojourning in rented facilities, St Gregory the Theologian Mission
celebrated the first Divine Liturgy in their new permanent location here.
The community recently purchased 3 acres of land with a large 6500 square foot building on it to meet their immediate needs for a chapel, education, library, fellowship and office space.
For many years the mission was in downtown Tuscaloosa near the University of Alabama, however with rising prices for real estate near the campus, it became price prohibitive to continue to try and be near the campus. Thus the community started to look outside of Tuscaloosa and found the property in Moundville.
The location of the new property was the result many years of prayer and after His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri inspected the property in February and gave his blessing, the community purchased the land.
Priest Demetrius Edwards and his flock have enthusiastic plans for the property which include the construction of a new Church in the future.
(Alpine, TX) The Orthodox Mission-station here in Alpine held it first services with a priest this weekend with Archpriest Joseph Fester celebrating Great Vespers and the Divine Liturgy. Both Orthodox, catechumens and inquirers were part of the worshippers.
His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri visited Alpine last November and began the process of helping form the mission station. Since then, weekly reader services are held on Sundays. The near-term goals for the mission-station are having a monthly visiting priest celebrate services and hear confessions. Also the mission-station would like to expand the weekly reader services to include not only the Hours and the Sunday Typica but Saturday reader vespers and other lay-led services.
The Alpine Mission-station is also actively looking for a temporary-permanent worship location to promote greater local visibility as the faithful reach out to others with the Orthodox Faith.
Alpine, TX - at an elevation of nearly 5000 ft amidst picturesque mountains - is located in the southwest area of Texas about 100 miles west of Big Bend National Park.
For more infomation on the Alpine Orthodox Mission-station, please contact Christine Serkland at “firstname.lastname@example.org”
In response to deacons in the DOS who have requested additional assistance in learning to serve more effectively the various liturgical services of the Orthodox Church, His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri is encouraging DOS deacons and those in the OCA Diaconal Training Program (late vocation program) from the DOS to participate in the upcoming St Vladimir's Seminary Diaconal Liturgical Practicum
. This year’s programi will run from June 3-6, 2008 at the Crestwood, NY campus of St Vladimir’s.
His Eminence recently shared that “Protodeacon Kiriil Sokolov (SVS Lecturer in Liturgics) is a learned deacon of our Church from a priestly family (the son of the late Archpriest Victor Sokolov of Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco.) In his current position at SVS he is also providing the diaconal training program to share his knowledge with other deacons so that the liturgical services of the Church can be celebrated with grace and peace.” In addition to Protodeacon Sokolov, Priest Alexander Rentel (SVS Coordinator of Liturgical Instruction) and the son of Archpriest Daniel Rentel (OCA-DMW) will also be a presenter at the Diaconal Liturgical Practicum.
Proposed Interior of St Maximus, Denton, TX
Proposed Interior of St Maximus, Denton, TX
Pantocrator, St Seraphim Cathedral, Dallas, TX
Pantocrator, St Seraphim Cathedral, Dallas, TX
Prophets and Pantocrator
Prophets and Pantocrator
Newly ordained Priest Philip Kontos
Newly ordained Priest Philip Kontos
St Mark Church, Bradenton, FL
St Mark Church, Bradenton, FL
Proposed Exterior of St Maximus, Denton, TX
Proposed Exterior of St Maximus, Denton, TX
Priest Timothy Ullman who is assisting the DOS and our Montgomery, Alabama mission-station
has been deployed to Iraq and will be stationed north of Bagdad in an area “affectionally named Mortaritaville” by the US soldiers there. Please keep him in your prayers. His current deployment will be until May but he expects to be redeployed to Iraq later this year for a much longer tour of duty.The Round Rock, TX mission-station
celebrated its first liturgical service this past Sunday evening with Vespers and Bible Study. Priest Thomas Ledford from our St Anthony Church in San Antonio will be assisting the group in their formative stage. The eventual location of the mission will be determined as the needs of the group and the outreach potential of a DOS mission in the greater Austin area develop.
Priest Philip Kontos, senior at St Tikhon’s Seminary will visit and serve at St Peter the Apostle Mission in Jupiter, FL during Bright Week to meet the faithful as he and they seek God’s will in his possible assignment after graduation. The mission has been faithfully serviced for the past year by Archpriest James Mason. Jupiter is located on the east coast of Florida north of West Palm Beach.
Priest Robert Royer and his wife Krystal visited St Seraphim Cathedral this past weekend to meet His Eminence and the DOS staff as he also seeks God’s will in his possible assignment in the diocese. Father Robert and Krystal will visit and serve at Holy Resurrection Mission in Aiken, SC during Bright Week and Thomas Sunday.
Priest John Chudik of St Mark Church in Bradenton, FL
reports that “everyone is working feverishly in hopes of getting a temporary certificate of occupancy” for their new temple so that they may worship in it by Pascha. The impressive new temple will be a blessing to the community has they reach out to others with the Orthodox Faith.
Priest Paul Coats, senior at St Vladimir’s, his wife Gerianne and daughter Helen will visit Charlotte, NC where Fr. Paul will be assigned as second priest at the Nativity of the Virgin Mary Church
and assist Fr Bill Mills. Fr Coats will also assist the Carolinas Deanery in its various mission outreaches and will begin work in the establishment of a second OCA mission in south Charlotte near Rock Hill, SC.
Priest John Parker of Holy Ascension Mission
and his flock are making the final arrangements for the consecration of their new temple in Mt. Pleasant, SC the weekend of May 23-25. His Eminence will consecrate the new temple and ordain subdeacon John Hays to the Holy Diaconate. John is a graduate of St Vladimir’s and will be ordained to the Holy Priesthood later this year to serve in Wilmington, NC.
Priest Justin Frederick of St Maximus Mission in Denton, TX
shared with His Eminence the latest renderings for their new temple which they hope to build in the near future. Andrew Gould the architect for the new temple in Mt. Pleasant, SC is working with St Maximus.
Priest Justin Mathews, assistant priest at St. Anne Mission in Oak Ridge, TN
and OCF Chaplain at the University of Tennessee, recently led an eight day Orthodox Christian Fellowship mission trip the Dominican Republic. Although the Orthodox presence in the island nation is very small the potential is great. Father Mathews hopes to return to the Dominican Republic and share the many liturgical services that have been translated by Archbishop Dmitri into Spanish to those searching for Orthodoxy. Fr Justin is also asking anyone who can help him with locating other Orthodox materials in Spanish, (prayer books, akathists, books translated into Spanish) that can be used. If you can help, please email him at “email@example.com”
Registration Forms for the 2008 DOS Assembly will be posted on the DOS website this week. As we did last year, all Assembly Reports will be distributed through the DOS website and participants are asked to download, print and bring those reports with them to Dallas in June. Please make your hotel reservation as soon as possible to get the discounted Assembly rate. Click here to make room reservations.
Milos Konjevich, DOS Treasurer reports that Tithes are running slightly ahead of last year’s record total. The final DOS financial reports for FY 2007
are now available on the DOS website. Total income from all sources last year totaled $813,884 compared to $720,310 in 2006.
Finally, Vladimir Gyrgorenko the iconographer for St Seraphim Cathedral here has completed the Pantocrator. He is working on the icons of the Prophets which will circle the inside of the dome. This phase of the interior iconography will be completed by the time of the June DOS Assembly Dallas.
Host Cathedral - St Seraphim
Host Cathedral - St Seraphim
Host Hotel - Renaissance Dallas
Host Hotel - Renaissance Dallas
To the Clergy and Faithful of the Diocese of the South:
On behalf of His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI, it is our pleasure to announce the convening of 31st Assembly of the Diocese of the South. The Diocese will celebrate its 30th Anniversary and our beloved Archbishop DMITRI will celebrate his 85th birthday later this year of which we will have the opportunity in anticipation of his birthday to honor him at the Assembly.
As the senior hierarch in The Orthodox Church in America and truly the father of our diocese, no other current bishop in our Church is more beloved for what he has humbly done to establish a diocese and shepherd it in a spirit of love and Orthodox missionary outreach.
The focus of this Assembly will be prayer and worship. We will gather often to thank God for what He has given us to steward and humbly beseech Him to give us strength and wisdom to continue to be missionaries in His Name and spread the Gospel. We will also discharge the work of the Diocese during the Plenary sessions on Thursday of the Assembly. The Diocesan Council will meet on the Tuesday afternoon of the Assembly.
His Eminence has invited Archpriest Paul Lazor to be our guest and to deliver the Keynote Address on Wednesday evening. We are also working on a dynamic Young Adults Presentation (ages 13-21) for the Wednesday evening of the Assembly. More details on this will be forthcoming.
As with last year, there will be no direct mailings of Assembly materials. Rather we will use the DOS website to announce and distribute all Assembly registration forms,
reports and other materials. You are asked to download and print these materials and bring them with you to Dallas in June.
If you have any questions please contact Archpriest Joseph Fester or Archpriest Basil Zebrun at 214-522-4149. You may also use a special email address for the Assembly DOSCHANCERY@gmail.com if you wish to email your questions to the local committee.
Please refer to the general Assembly schedule posted on the DOS website under Assembly 08. A final schedule and complete Agenda will be posted in May.
You are encouraged to make your hotel reservation
as soon as possible, again please go to the DOS website and click the Assembly Hotel Reservation button which will take you directly to the Renaissance Dallas Hotel website.
We look forward to hosting you in Dallas,
The 31st DOS Assembly Committee
The Arrington Family
The Arrington Family
(Dallas, TX) In 1998 Chad Arrington visited St Seraphim Orthodox Cathedral in Dallas, TX. He was steered toward the Orthodox Church by a fellow classmate at the University of Dallas, Trevor Beckworth who told him “this Church may be the real thing.”
Raised in the Church of Christ, Chad visited St Seraphim and with his wife Christy, they began to read and study more about Orthodoxy. Their study led them to embrace the Faith and on Holy Saturday in 1999, Chad and Christy, became members of the Orthodox Church.
Today, Chad is Priest Ambrose Arrington, priest-in-charge of Holy Apostles Mission in Tulsa, OK. His wife, Matushka Christy are the proud parents of Lucas, Mary, Miriam, and Aleksandr. But the story does not end there.
After Fr. Ambrose became Orthodox his mother and father Peggy and Ted started to look into Orthodoxy, at first to find out why their son left the Church of Christ. It did not take long for them to come to the same conclusion as their son, that in the Orthodox Church, they had found the authentic Church of Christ! In 2002 Fr. Ambrose parents became Orthodox. Peggy (Tabitha) and Ted (Theodore) are now members of St. Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas. But there is more to this story.
Fr Ambrose brother, Brent, and his wife Michael and their children began their journey to Orthodoxy which culminated in their family being received into the Church earlier this year. Brent (Andrew), Michael (Katherine), and their children, Benedict, Christine, Genevieve, and Elizabeth round out, so far, the Arrington family as Orthodox Christians.
Ten years ago only two members of the Arrington family were Orthodox. Today there are 14.
As the early Church grew from person to person, family member to family member, so too this dynamic is alive today in the Orthodox Church and especially here in the Diocese of the South.
For this, and all things, we give glory to God. Only by the Grace of God and the sacrifice of those who wish to follow the narrow path that leads to the Kingdom of God, can the Orthodox Faith continue to proclaim the Truth that is Jesus Christ in this land and share this Truth with others.
Last year, over 160 people were received into the Orthodox Church across the Diocese of the South. This year with 28 parishes, missions and mission-stations reporting so far, 105 are in their final preparations to be received into the Church on Holy Saturday or shortly thereafter - of which 7 will be received at Holy Apostles Mission in Tulsa, Fr Arrington’s mission.
Here in the DOS the “Litany for the Catechumens” and those “Preparing for Holy Illumination” are prayed with particular persons and families in mind. May the Lord, in His love, hear our prayers.
Oh, and by the way, remember Trevor who tipped Chad to the Orthodox Church? Trevor is currently a seminary student at St. Tikhon Seminary in South Canaan.
And so, the story continues!
Beginning on the evening of Palm Sunday and continuing through the evening of Holy Tuesday, the Orthodox Church observes a special service known as the Service of the Bridgegroom. Each evening service is the Matins or Orthros service of the following day (e.g. the service held on Sunday evening is the Orthros service for Holy Monday). The name of the service is from the figure of the Bridegroom in the parable of the Ten Virgins found in Matthew 25:1-13.
The first part of Holy Week presents us with an array of themes based chiefly on the last days of Jesus' earthly life. The story of the Passion, as told and recorded by the Evangelists, is preceded by a series of incidents located in Jerusalem and a collection of parables, sayings and discourses centered on Jesus' divine sonship, the kingdom of God, the Parousia, and Jesus' castigation of the hypocrisy and dark motives of the religious leaders. The observances of the first three days of Great Week are rooted in these incidents and sayings. The three days constitute a single liturgical unit. They have the same cycle and system of daily prayer. The Scripture lessons, hymns, commemorations, and ceremonials that make up the festal elements in the respective services of the cycle highlight significant aspects of salvation history, by calling to mind the events that anticipated the Passion and by proclaiming the inevitability and significance of the Parousia.
The Orthros of each of these days is called the Service of the Bridegroom (Akolouthia tou Nimfiou). The name comes from the central figure in the well-known parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). The title Bridegroom suggests the intimacy of love. It is not without significance that the kingdom of God is compared to a bridal feast and a bridal chamber. The Christ of the Passion is the divine Bridegroom of the Church. The imagery connotes the final union of the Lover and the beloved. The title Bridegroom also suggests the Parousia. In the patristic tradition, the aforementioned parable is related to the Second Coming; and is associated with the need for spiritual vigilance and preparedness, by which we are enabled to keep the divine commandments and receive the blessings of the age to come. The troparion "Behold the Bridegroom comes in the middle of the night.", which is sung at the beginning of the Orthros of Great Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, relates the worshiping community to that essential expectation: watching and waiting for the Lord, who will come again to judge the living and the dead.
On Holy Monday we commemorate Joseph the Patriarch, the beloved son of Jacob. A major figure of the Old Testament, Joseph's story is told in the final section of the Book of Genesis (chs. 37-50). Because of his exceptional qualities and remarkable life, our patristic and liturgical tradition portrays Joseph as tipos Christou, i.e., as a prototype, prefigurement or image of Christ. The story of Joseph illustrates the mystery of God's providence, promise and redemption. Innocent, chaste and righteous, his life bears witness to the power of God's love and promise. The lesson to be learned from Joseph's life, as it bears upon the ultimate redemption wrought by the death and resurrection of Christ, is summed up in the words he addressed to his brothers who had previously betrayed him, "'Fear not ... As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.' Thus he reassured them and comforted them" (Genesis 50:19-21). The commemoration of the noble, blessed and saintly Joseph reminds us that in the great events of the Old Testament, the Church recognizes the realities of the New Testament.
Also, on Great and Holy Monday the Church commemorates the event of the cursing of the fig tree (Matthew 21:18-20). In the Gospel narrative this event is said to have occurred on the morrow of Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:18 and Mark 11:12). For this reason it found its way into the liturgy of Great Monday. The episode is also quite relevant to Great Week. Together with the event of the cleansing of the Temple this episode is another manifestation of Jesus' divine power and authority and a revelation as well of God's judgment upon the faithlessness of the Jewish religious classes. The fig tree is symbolic of Israel become barren by her failure to recognize and receive Christ and His teachings. The cursing of the fig tree is a parable in action, a symbolic gesture. Its meaning should not be lost on any one in any generation.
Christ's judgment on the faithless, unbelieving, unrepentant and unloving will be certain and decisive on the Last Day. This episode makes it clear that nominal Christianity is not only inadequate, it is also despicable and unworthy of God's kingdom. Genuine Christian faith is dynamic and fruitful. It permeates one's whole being and causes a change. Living, true and unadulterated faith makes the Christian conscious of the fact that he is already a citizen of heaven. Therefore, his way of thinking, feeling, acting and being must reflect this reality. Those who belong to Christ ought to live and walk in the Spirit; and the Spirit will bear fruit in them: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-25).
On Holy Tuesday the Church calls to remembrance two parables, which are related to the Second Coming. The one is the parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-3); the other the parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). These parables point to the inevitability of the Parousia and deal with such subjects as spiritual vigilance, stewardship, accountability and judgment.
From these parables we learn at least two basic things. First, Judgment Day will be like the situation in which the bridesmaids (or virgins) of the parable found themselves: some ready for it, some not ready. The time one decides for God is now and not at some undefined point in the future. If "time and tide waits for no man," certainly the Parousia is no exception. The tragedy of the closed door is that individuals close it, not God. The exclusion from the marriage feast, the kingdom, is of our own making. Second, we are reminded that watchfulness and readiness do not mean a wearisome, spiritless performance of formal and empty obligations. Most certainly it does not mean inactivity and slothfulness. Watchfulness signifies inner stability, soberness, tranquility and joy. It means spiritual alertness, attentiveness and vigilance. Watchfulness is the deep personal resolve to find and do the will of God, embrace every commandment and every virtue, and guard the intellect and heart from evil thoughts and actions. Watchfulness is the intense love of God.
On Holy Wednesday the Church invites the faithful to focus their attention on two figures: the sinful woman who anointed the head of Jesus shortly before the passion (Matthew 26:6-13), and Judas, the disciple who betrayed the Lord. The former acknowledged Jesus as Lord, while the latter severed himself from the Master. The one was set free, while the other became a slave. The one inherited the kingdom, while the other fell into perdition. These two people bring before us concerns and issues related to freedom, sin, hell and repentance.
The repentance of the sinful harlot is contrasted with the tragic fall of the chosen disciple. The Triodion make is clear that Judas perished, not simply because he betrayed his Master, but because, having fallen into the sin of betrayal, he then refused to believe in the possibility of forgiveness. If we deplore the actions of Judas, we do so not with vindictive self-righteousness but conscious always of our own guilt. In general, all the passages in the Triodion that seem to be directed against the Jews should be understood in this same way. When the Triodion denounces those who rejected Christ and delivered Him to death, we recognize that these words apply not only to others, but to ourselves: for have we not betrayed the Savior many times in our hearts and crucified Him anew?
I have transgressed more than the harlot, O loving Lord, yet never have I offered You my flowing tears. But in silence I fall down before You and with love I kiss Your most pure feet, beseeching You as Master to grant me remission of sins; and I cry to You, O Savior: Deliver me from the filth of my works.
While the sinful woman brought oil of myrrh, the disciple came to an agreement with the transgressors. She rejoiced to pour out what was very precious, he made haste to sell the One who is above all price. She acknowledged Christ as Lord, he severed himself from the Master. She was set free, but Judas became the slave of the enemy. Grievous was his lack of love. Great was her repentance. Grant such repentance also unto me, O Savior who has suffered for our sake, and save us.
The Bridegroom" Icon portrays Christ during His Passion, particularly during the period when our Lord was mocked and tortured by the soldiers who crowned Him with thorns, dressed Him in purple and placed a reed in His Hands, jeering Him as the "King of the Jews."
Orthodox Christian Celebration of the Bridegroom Service
The services conducted on Palm Sunday evening and on the evenings of Holy Monday and Tuesday are the Matins or Orthros services of the following day. After the reading of the Psalms at the beginning of the service the Troparion of the Bridegroom Service is chanted three times. On Palm Sunday evening as this hymn is being chanted, the priest carries the icon of Christ as Bridegroom in procession. The icon is placed in the middle of the solea of the church and remains there until Holy Thursday.
The Matins Gospel readings for each of the Bridegroom Services are: Holy Monday - Matthew 21:18-43; Holy Tuesday - Matthew 22:15-46, 23:1-39; and Holy Wednesday - John 12:17-50).
In most parishes a Presanctified Liturgy will be conducted on the mornings of Holy Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. The Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts has a distinct character and order. It is comprised of three major parts or components: a) the service of Great Vespers peculiar to this Liturgy; b) the solemn transfer of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts to the Holy Table; and c) the preparation for and the distribution of holy Communion. The Liturgy does not contain the Anaphora, the Gifts of the bread and wine having been consecrated at the Divine Liturgy on the previous Sunday or Saturday.
The Scripture readings for each of the Presanctified Liturgies are: Holy Monday - Exodus 1:1-21, Job 1:1-12, Matthew 24:3-35; Holy Tuesday - Exodus 2:5-10, Job 1:13-22, Matthew 24:36-26:2; Holy Wednesday - Exodus 2:11-23, Job 2:1-10, Matthew 26:6-16.
Hymns of the Bridegroom Service
Behold, the Bridegroom cometh in the middle of the night, and blessed is that servant whom He shall find watching; and again unworthy is he whom He shall find heedless. Beware, therefore, O my soul, lest thou be overcome with sleep, lest thou be given up to death, and be shut out from the Kingdom. But rouse thyself and cry: Holy, Holy, Holy art Thou, O God, through the Mother of God, have mercy on us.
Thy bridal chamber, O my Saviour, do I behold all adorned, and a garment I have not that I may enter therein. Illumine the garment of my soul, O Giver of Light, and save me. Listen
The Lenten Triodion, translated by Mother Mary and Kallistos Ware (South Canaan, PA: St. Tikhon's Seminary Press, 1994), pp. 59-60, 511-547.
Calivas, Alkiviadis C. Great Week and Pascha in the Greek Orthodox Church (Brookline: Holy Cross Press, 1992), pp. 29-49.
Farley, Donna. Seasons of Grace: Reflections on the Orthodox Church Year (Ben Lomond, CA: Conciliar Press, 2002), pp. 130-132.
Wybrew, Hugh. Orthodox Lent, Holy Week and Easter: Liturgical Texts with Commentary (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1997), pp. 89-100.
Many thanks to Fr. Constantin Alecse and Biserica.org
The services of Passion Week reach their climax on Holy Friday, when
the faithful are called to assemble at three points. The first time
calls us to the Morning Service, with its twelve Passion Gospels, often
held on Holy Thursday evening, since at 1:00 AM -- the time prescribed
by the Typikon -- we will probably still be ‘dragged down by sleep'. We
come together a second time at midmorning to read the Royal Hours, so
called because (as at Nativity and Theophany) the Roman Basileus would
serve as psalmreader, or at least be present. This practice was often
observed by orthodox monarchs in other countries long after the fall of
the Roman Empire in 1453.
Now there is no king but One Whose
‘reign is not of this world' (JN 18:33-38). So, at the ‘third hour',
about nine in the morning, at the same time (MK 15:25) as Jesus was
lifted up on the cross, we begin to read the Royal Hours with a very
different royalty in mind as we contemplate the King of Glory nailed to
the tree. On this most somber day of the liturgical year, the holy
Church directs our attention to the awful and awesome sufferings which
the immortal Son of God endured for our sake.
‘The One Who is
without passions now comes to His voluntary passion' (Triodion). ‘When
I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to Myself' (JN
12:32). ‘Lifting up' was a Roman euphemism for crucifixion, a hideous
form of torture to death, and humiliation even after death, from which
they spared their own citizens, but savagely inflicted on their unruly
slaves and rebellious subject peoples.
This is why (according to
ancient tradition) St Peter was crucified, but St Paul beheaded (ACTS
22:22-29). ‘Today, the One Who suspended the heavens is suspended
between Heaven and Earth' (Triodion). What can we say as we behold this
incredible sight? The Son of God is hanged, naked and tortured on a
shameful gibbet; He endures it, although the very elements protest (MT
27:45, 51-52; MK 15:33; LK 23:44-45).
In His awesome suffering,
He speaks but a very few words. He has already said everything He had
to say; now He fulfills the destiny He accepted when He accepted a
human body and soul for our sake (JN 18:37).When Jesus says ‘It is
finished.' (JN 19:30), He means that the redemption of the human race
has been accomplished, and that His work is over. His obedience, even
to the point of death on the cross (PHLP 2:7-8), annulled the effects
of Adam's -- and our own -- disobedience, if only we will claim that
No human being could perfectly fulfill the laws of
the Old Covenant, which the rabbis say were imposed on Israel as a
result of their sin of idolatry at Sinai (EX 32), and which were
regarded as a curse from which Christ ransomed us (GAL 3:13), since
only H e, by His perfect obedience as the Son of God and Son of Man in
one person, could observe the Old Law perfectly (MT 5:17).
Old Law is finished, and we are now free to become by grace what Christ
is by nature: by His death and resurrection, the only Son of God made
it possible for us to become adopted children of God, and His royal
heirs along with Christ (ROM 1:17). Naturally, this is cause for our
But, at the same time, we must also accuse ourselves
of the sins which made it necessary for so great a Savior to save us,
and we would be much worse off for ignoring and despising the Savior
than if He had never come at all (HEB 2:1-3).
Oh, how Christ
loves us! What can we do to return such great love? He tells us: ‘If
you love Me, you will obey My commandments' (JN 14:15). The last
service on Holy Friday is actually the first service of Holy Saturday.
This is the Evening Service, sometimes called the ‘Un-nailing' or ‘The
Descent from the Cross', not only because of the late afternoon time of
this service in our commemoration of the Lord's death and burial, but
also because, in many places, there is a liturgical reenactment of the
event: the image of the dead Christ is removed from the cross, and the
shroud depicting His body in repose is solemnly brought out for
veneration and placed in the ‘tomb' at the center of the nave. As
affecting as these rites are, we would do well to note that they are of
relatively recent origin, as is the outdoor procession with the shroud,
certainly not more than two centuries or so in general usage.
is important as a brake on our native conservatism in liturgical
practice: what we seek to conserve may not be all that old -- it's just
that we're used to it, and we might want to consider restoring ancient
practices or developing new ones even now.
There is an ancient
tradition describing St James, the Brother of God, serving the Divine
Liturgy on a table covered with the original shroud of Christ, and this
may be the origin of the image usually found on the _antimension_, not
to mention the _epitaphion_ itself, and possibly even the ‘Image Not
Made by Hands'; the ‘Holy Shroud' still preserved at Torino presents a
prototype of all of these: the full-length figure of a crucified man
reclining in death, hands crossed over the abdomen.
Notice that the right hand is placed over the left, the right hand which we venerate with our kisses.
is just the opposite of how we place our hands on our breasts as we
approach the Holy Cup, when we place the right hand over the heart and
the left hand over the right.
There is a very loud silence, a
palpable emptiness, which palls the holy Church on the evening of Holy
Friday. As we struggle to comprehend the horror of the suffering and
death of the very Son of God, each of us stands ashamed and wonders:
Since He was crucified for me, since my sins went far beyond my poor
ability to atone for them, it is I who crucified Christ.
than Judas, more than the Jews, more than the Romans, I crucified
Christ. How can I escape the wrath of God for putting His Son to death
like this? How can creation itself endure it? Even ‘the sun goes dark,
unable to bear the sight of God outraged' (Triodion). But it is the
very death of Christ which ‘tramples Death', since He rises from the
dead and liberates us from death as well, allowing us to escape the
ultimate punishment we deserve for our sins.
This is why we
describe God's mercy as ‘great'; this is the very definition of
‘grace'. This is the divine forgiveness and reconciliation with God for
which we hope and pray, and which is ours for the asking if only we
will return His love by accepting the salvation He offers us uniquely
through His Son, our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ. ‘We adore
Your passion, O Christ! Also show us Your holy resurrection!'
APRIL 27 - THE PASCHA OF OUR LORD
The Diocese of the South
PO Box 191109
Dallas, TX 75219-191109
_____________________________________________________________________ pdf. version doc version
THE PASCHAL MESSAGE OF HIS EMINENCE, THE MOST REVEREND, DMITRI
ARCHBISHOP OF DALLAS AND THE SOUTH
Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!
A recent visitor to an Orthodox Church, interested in learning more about the Faith, asked with all due respect about, “the relevance of Orthodox liturgical services to the post-modern era.” As the local priest considered his question he thought about the end of the Lenten journey: “the chosen and holy day…the Feast of Feasts…” It did not occur to the priest at the time but one possible answer to this inquiry might have taken the form of an invitation to attend the Midnight Service. The experience of absolute joy in the Resurrection, as expressed by the faithful packed wall to wall in the Church on Pascha night, seems to transcend categories of “relevance” and “need,” making questions about such things appear themselves almost irrelevant.
From time to time the relevancy of the traditional Christian Faith itself also comes under scrutiny. Such a position is understandable to the degree that the words and actions of Christians remain inconsistent with the vision of both God and man set forth in the Church’s Living Tradition, to the extent that they refrain from challenging contemporary society with that same vision.
The Paschal season provides an opportunity to measure our own lives according to these principles. As an aid to this endeavor the special hymns and Gospel lessons during the forty days remind us continually of the mysteries into which we have been baptized: Christ’s Death and Resurrection. The prescribed readings from the Book of Acts contain examples of great leaders who indeed confronted their day and time with God’s Truth. They accomplished this, however, not only with a readiness to preach Christ crucified and risen, but with a desire to share in His sufferings and triumph. They identified completely with the words of their Master, “He who gains his life shall lose it, but he who loses his life for my sake and for the Gospel’s, the same shall save it.” “Let him who would come after Me, deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.”
This kind of whole-hearted witness is needed in each generation. It makes questions about “relevancy” somewhat unnecessary with regard to both liturgical services and the Faith. Through the apparent weakness of men resulting from self-sacrifice and true worship the glory of God is revealed, drawing men unto itself. The life giving character of the Cross when manifested through the disciples is more fully appreciated by those who initially consider the Way of the Cross to be scandalous or foolish. Without this evidence, however, of lives genuinely renewed through faith in the crucified, risen Lord, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the preaching of the Gospel is in vain. Individuals and communities offering themselves wholly to God, transformed by His grace, constitute proof that what Christians preach is true.
With the above thoughts in mind and borrowing a phrase from the Apostle Paul, “if then ye be (crucified) and risen with Christ” (Col. 3:1), how will we conduct ourselves in the days ahead? Will the multitudes, skeptical of a Faith whose main symbol is the cross of a crucified Savior, sincerely questioning the relevancy of that ancient Faith for modern times, see in us reason for hope? And, will we ourselves find renewal and become a source of joy for those around us?
The Orthodox Faith we profess will ultimately be measured by the effect that it has on our lives. For the sake of our neighbor and for our own salvation let us rededicate ourselves to the fullness of “grace and truth” as revealed through our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
With love in the Risen Lord,
Archbishop of Dallas and the South
(Mt. Pleasant, SC)
With the conscecration of Holy Ascension Church rapidly approaching on May 23-24, Priest John Parker has provided a look back at the progress of their building project since it began in May 2005. The key dates with the photos attached
mark the following:
May 5, 2005 - Groundbreaking and planting of the Cross at the site of the Altar
May 6, 2006 - First disturbance of the land preparing for foundation.
May 10, 2007 - Raising of the Dome
May 6, 2008 - "Day of Rejoicing" in the Church and we Rejoice and give God thanks for a beautiful new temple built to the glory of His Holy Ascension.
Priest John Chudick reports that work on the new temple for St Mark Church is rapidly coming to conclusion. The community hopes that they may get their occupancy permit by the Feast of Pentecost. For more information on the building progress in Bradenton, click here.
The priest has not yet been assigned. The community is just a handful of faithful. Yet, the vision for Orthodoxy in this small Alabama town off of Interstate 20 midway between Atlanta, GA and Birmingham, AL is inspiring.
Thanks to the determination and generosity of Dr. Carla Thomas and the pastoral leadership of Deacon Basil Henry, who will be ordained to the Holy Priesthood at the upcoming DOS Assembly and assigned to Anniston, AL. 5.3 acres of land was recently purchased which includes two historic mansions.
The two major buildings and carriage house that occupy the land are known locally here as the Hamilton House and the Crowan House. Plans are for the Hamilton House to be rennovated and occupied by Dr Carla and her husband as a joint medical office and law office for their respective practices.
In addition, it is envisoned that the first floor of the Hamilton house will be renovated and be turned into the worship space for St Luke Mission. The adjacent carriage house will be developed into a Fellowship Hall and Classrooms for the mission. But that is not the end of the vision.
The Crowan House which is in better condition, is seen as an Orthodox Conference Center. The structures sit on gently rolling land with stately trees and peaceful surroundings. Yes, the buildings are in need of extensive repairs, but they are structually sound and will accomodate renovations. The land also includes a cemetery.
Archpriest Peter Smith visited the complex along with Dr. Thomas. Father Peter blessed the buildings and thus began the process of their transformation as sacred space for the healing of souls and bodies for the Glory of God.
The Anniston mission along with the start of a new mission in Montgomery, AL and the new facilities of St Gregory Church in Tuscaloosa mark the growth of the DOS witness in Alabama. St Symeon Church in Birmingham is currently investigating plans for building a new Temple to meet their growing needs.
The Orthodox spirit in Alabama is vibrant and the future exciting. We will keep you updated on Orthodox Alabama here on the DOS website.
For additional photos of the homes of Noble Park, click here
(Mt Pleasant, SC)
The long-awaited consecration of Holy Ascension Church took place on Saturday, May 24 as His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri traveled here to set aside this temple as sacred space for the worship and glory of God. CLICK HERE FOR UPDATED PHOTOS
The community of Holy Ascension was founded by Archpriest John Breck (former professor at SVS) in 2001. Father Breck was instrumental in forming the new community and preparing them for their first full-time resident priest, Father John Parker.
The mission was a receipient of an OCA Church Planting Grant and a DOS Planting Grant which helped to promote the growth and stability of the mission. Currently the parish has 55 adult members made up of both converts and "cradle Orthodox."
The new temple was built in a new residential community in Mt Pleasant which is a close-in suburb of historic Charleston, SC. Nestled among homes that are replicas of traditional Charleston architecture, Holy Ascension received the land for the building of the church via a donation by the subdivisions owner and developer.
Mr. Andrew Gould, a local Charleston architect and member of Holy Ascension, designed the new church. Mr. Gould is also designing the new temple being planned for Denton, TX.
We will post additional pictures of the consecration in the next few days, so please check back for updates.
Consecration of Holy Ascension Church in Mt Pleasant, SC
(Baton Rouge, LA)
A mission-station in Louisiana needs to move to better facilities and a mission in Kentucky helps them move. That is missionary spirit!
Priest Justin Patterson, priest-in-charge of St. Athanasius Mission in Nicholasville, KY.
led a group of his faithful to St Matthew Mission-station
here to help the nacent community move and set up in its new location.
Father Justin reports that, "we raised all our own money to cover all transportation and food costs." A group of seven left Kentucky on May 30th by minivan and arrived in Louisiana late that evening."
The next morning after a good night's sleep the Kentuckians "helped St Matthew's move from their first rented space into a larger and more appropriate, visible, and convenient location," reports Fr. Justin. "We helped move and arrange the chapel, including all the sacred items, did some needed painting and joined hands with about 15 faithful from Baton Rouge to prepare the new space for worship."
On Saturday, May 31, the new space was blessed and Great Vespers was celebrated. On Sunday morning, the Divine Liturgy was served with 30 people present.
After the Liturgy, the Nicholasville missionaries joined their Baton Rouge brothers and sisters in fellowship at a cookout hosted by Mark Christian and his wife. Mark is a former Episcopal priest who currently is in the OCA Late Vocation Program. Mark serves as the local lay coordinator for the mission-station.
"This type of mission trip was hugely successful in terms of forming closer spiritual ties," shares Fr. Patterson. "I would think that this is something we would certainly want to organize again, when the right needs present themselves in another mission situation. I also was pleased that we were able to offer more than symbolic help to St. Matthew's (which is important) but to go a little further and offer tangible assistance as they take the necessary steps to accelerate their growth. This trip was a real joy for all involved."
With the blessing of His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri and as part of the vetting process of Abbot Jonah (Paffhausen), His Eminence recently asked Abbot Jonah to provide background information and a collection of his writings to the members of the DOS Diocesan Council.
In addition, His Eminence would like the members of the DOS to familarize themselves with Abbot Jonah's writings.
As per the Statute of the Orthodox Church in America,
"If the good of the Church so require, auxiliary bishops may be appointed in order to assist diocesan bishops in the fulfillment of their functions. Candidates for the dignity of auxilary bishop are nominated by the bishop of the diocese in which they serve, with the agreement of the Diocesan Council, and are canonically elected by the Holy Synod."
Abbot Jonah has been invited by His Eminence to be at the upcoming DOS Assembly to meet the clergy and faithful of the Diocese. Abbot Jonah will also make a presentation at the Assembly on the "Spiritual Formation of the Clergy."
To download the writings of Abbot Jonah, click here.
Priest Matthew Jackson, priest-in-charge of Christ the Savior Mission here not only tends to the spiritual needs of his own flock but is actively involved in three other missionary outreach efforts.
Father Matthew makes monthly visits to St Matthew Mission in Baton Rouge, LA, St. John the Apostle Mission-station in St. Francisville, LA and Holy Cross Orthodox Christian Fellowship in Hattiesburg, MS. “Little McComb, Mississippi has become a little hub for these other outreach efforts” describes Father Matthew. “We have faithful and seekers all traveling the two hours to McComb where we offer our regular cycle of worship.”
Recently Archpriest Joseph Fester, Dean of the DOS Southcentral (Dallas) Deanery traveled to McComb to celebrate Great Vespers and the Divine Liturgy while Fr Jackson and his family were on vacation. “It is so exciting to see people from Hattiesburg and St Francisville at Liturgy and committed to seeing the Orthodox faith grow in their respective communities” commented Fr Fester. “With continued prayer and hard work these groups of people will someday take their place as mission and parish communities in the DOS.”
St Matthew Mission in Baton Rouge has weekly Reader or Priest-led services. The OCF on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi meets in the Danforth Chapel on the USM campus while the St. Francisville mission-station meets at Market Hall on Royal Street in the historic section of downtown St Francisville.
If you would like more information on any of these DOS missions and outreach efforts, please visit their websites. Both the Hattiesburg and St Franciville mission stations will be added to the DOS website parish listings page.
THE FEAST OF PENTECOST
Celebration of Faith Sermons, Vol. 2, "The Church Year"
Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann
"The feast of the descent of the Holy Spirit." I say these words I've known since childhood, and all at once they strike me as if I'm hearing them for the first time. Yes, from the time I was a child I knew that ten days following the Ascension, meaning fifty days after Pascha, Christians from time immemorial celebrated and continue to celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit in a feast known by its church name as Pentecost, or more popularly as "Trinity," the day of the Trinity.
For centuries, to prepare for this feast the churches were cleaned and adorned with greenery and branches, and grass was strewn about the floor... On the day of the feast, at the solemn vespers, the faithful stood in church holding flowers in their hands. These customs explain how the feast of Pentecost entered Russian popular consciousness and literature as a kind of sun-filled, bright celebration, the feast of flowering, a kind of joyful encounter between human beings and God's world in all its beauty and grace.
All religions, including the most ancient and primitive, had a feast of summer flowering, a feast to celebrate the first appearance of shoots, plants, fruit. In ancient Judaism, this was the feast of Pentecost. If in Old Testament religion Passover celebrated spring's resurrection of the world and nature, then the Jewish Pentecost was the feast of movement from spring to summer, celebrating the victory of sun and light, the feast of
cosmic fullness. But in the Old Testament a feast common to all human societies acquires a new meaning: it becomes the annual commemoration of the ascent of Moses up Mount Sinai, where in an inexpressible mystical encounter God revealed himself, entered into a Covenant, gave commandments, and promised salvation. In other terms, religion ceased being simply nature, and now became the beginning of history: God had revealed his law, his commandments, his plan for humanity, and had shown the way. Spring, summer, the eternal natural cycle, became a sign and symbol not only of nature, but of man's spiritual destiny and the commandment to grow into fullness of knowledge, life and perfect wholeness... Finally, in the very last phase of the Old Testament, through the teaching and insight of the prophets, this feast became a celebration directed toward the future, to God's final victory in his creation. Here is how the prophet Joel speaks of this:
And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even upon the men-servants and maidservants in those days, I will pour out my spirit. And I will give signs in the heavens and on the earth...before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. And it shall come to pass that all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be delivered... (Joel 2:28-32)
Thus, the Jewish feast of Pentecost is a feast of nature and the cosmos, a feast of history as the revelation of God's will for the world and human beings, a feast of future triumph, of God's victory over evil and the coming of the great and last "day of the
Lord." All this must be kept in mind in order to grasp how the first Christians experienced, understood, and celebrated their feast of Pentecost, and why it became one of the most important Christian celebrations.
The Book of Acts, devoted to recounting the history of the first Christians and the initial spread of Christianity, starts precisely with the day of Pentecost, describing what took place fifty days after Christ's resurrection and ten days after his ascension into heaven. Just before his ascension Christ had told the disciples "not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which he said, 'you heard from me..." (Acts 1:4). So in ten days, according to St Luke's account,
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance... And all who heard were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" But others mocking said, "They are filled with new wine." (Acts 2:1-4, 12.13)
To those witnesses who remained skeptical, the apostle Peter explained the meaning of the event using the words of the prophet Joel quoted above. "This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel," he said, "And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh..." (Acts 2:16,17).
For the Christian, therefore, the feast of Pentecost is the completion of all that Christ accomplished. Christ taught about the Kingdom of God, and here it is, now opened! Christ promised that the Spirit of God would reveal the truth, and now this is fulfilled. The world, history, life, time, are all illumined with the final, transcendent light-all are filled with ultimate meaning. The last and great day of the Lord has begun!
The deadline for reservations for the DOS Assembly Banquet is MONDAY, JUNE 23.
If your parish has registered for the Assembly, your registration includes one clergy and one lay banquet ticket for the $175 registration fee. If you have not registered for the Assembly, you must do so by this Thursday to secure a ticket for the banquet. If you have any questions, please call the DOS Chancery at 214-522-4149 or email at the DOS Chancery
To download the Banquet Reservation Form or other Assembly Forms, click here
In preparation for the upcoming OCA All American Council in November a series of "Town Hall" meetings are taking place across North America to allow the faithful of the Church to speak out concerning the current life of the OCA. The parameters of the "Town Hall" meetings are presented on the OCA website.
Archpriest Alexander Garklavs, OCA Chancellor, will lead the "Town Hall" meeting which will be held at St Seraphim Cathedral on Tuesday, June 24 starting at 3:00PM and concluding with Vespers at 5:00PM. Father Garklavs will also be present at the DOS Assembly the entire week and will be available to listen to any other input from DOS faithful.
His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri would like to encourage as many people as possible to participate at the "Town Hall" meeting next Tuesday or speak with Fr Garklavs during the week of the Council.
It is not necessary
to be registered for the Assembly to participate in the "Town Hall" meeting.
(Dallas, TX) With the deadline of the upcoming DOS Assembly looming, iconographer Vladimir Grygorenko completed the latest phase of the 8 year Cathedral iconography project last week with the dome of St Seraphim Cathedral.
"All that is left is the narthex" commented Mr. Grygorenko, "with Old Testament scenes. That final phase should begin in several months."
But for now, the altar and nave are complete and participants to the 31st Annual Assembly of the Diocese of the South will be able to see the finished work.
The Assemby begins next Tuesday. The Divine Liturgy for the Nativity of the St John the Baptist will be celebrated that day. A Hierarchial Liturgy will be celebrated on Wednesday with ordinations to the Priesthood of Deacon Basil Henry and to the Diaconate of Paul Hilko and then on Friday the Divine Liturgy will again be celebrated for those still in Dallas before returning home.
Please check the 2008 Assembly page on this website for the Assembly Schedule and all the latest Assembly reports.
(Dallas, TX) Mr. Nick Paraskevas, St Seraphim Cathedral choir director, invites all those wishing to sing during the upcoming DOS Assembly to feel free to do so. The choir will practice according to the following schedule:
Tuesday, June 24
8:30am - Assembly Choir rehearsal (until 9:10)
9:00AM - Hours
9:30AM - Divine Liturgy (Feast of the Nativity of St John the Baptist)
4:15pm - Assembly Choir rehearsal (until 4:45)
5:00PM - Vespers at Cathedral
Wednesday, June 25
8:00am - Assembly Choir rehearsal (until 8:45)
8:30AM - Hours
- Hierarchical Divine Liturgy (Ordinations of Dn. Basil Henry to the
Priesthood and Subdeacon Paul Hilko to the Diaconate)
4:15pm - Assembly Choir rehearsal (until 4:45)
5:00PM - Vespers
Thursday, June 26
8:00AM - Matins
4:00pm - Assembly Choir rehearsal (until 4:20)
4:30PM - Vespers
Friday, June 27
8:30am - Assembly Choir rehearsal (until 9:15)
9:00AM - Hours
9:30AM - Divine Liturgy (St Joanna the Myrrhbearer and St Sampson the Hospitable)
(Dallas, TX) Registration for the 2008 DOS Assembly will take place at St. Seraphim Cathedral from 1:00PM to 7:00PM Tuesday, June 24 in the Bookstore (old Cathedral). This is a change of venue from the published Schedule. Please make note of this change.
(Dallas, TX) On this date in 1969, His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri was consecrated a bishop. In those 39 years, His Eminence continues to leave his mark on the life of the Orthodox Church in America and the Diocese of the South. More than "just" a diocesan bishop, His Eminence is truly our Father in Christ as he is the only bishop who's name has been elevated as the Archpastor of the Diocese of the South since its creation in 1978.
At today's Divine Liturgy at St. Seraphim Cathedral, in which Archimandrite-elect, Jonah (Paffhausen) who is under consideration as the Auxiliary Bishop to His Eminence, was present, His Eminence, after the singing of "Many Years" wondered out loud, "What is the definition of 'Many Years!" He went on to say, "I am grateful to God for the years he has given me and will be grateful for as many more years as He sees fit to grant me."
The 31st Assembly of the Diocese of the South begins this Tuesday here in Dallas. The Assembly will celebrate both the 30th Anniversary of the Diocese of the South and, in anticipation, the 85th birthday of Archbishop Dmitri. The Assembly will be blessed with the presence of Archpriest Paul Lazor, retired professor and Dean of Students of St. Vladimir Seminary. Father Lazor, a longtime friend of Archbishp Dmitri, will present the Keynote Address at the Assembly, "Mission and Evangelization - The Breath of the Spirit."
In this 30th year of the Diocese of the South and the 39th year of His service as a bishop of Christ's Church, we the faithful clergy and laity of the Diocese of the South ask God to grant our beloved Archbishop Dmitri, Many Years!
(Dallas, TX) The 31st Annual DOS Assembly began yesterday with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy for the Nativity of St John the Baptist. Later in the day His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri and Archpriest Alexander Garklavs, OCA Chancellor led the second of the OCA “Town Hall” Meetings.
In a frank, respectful and honest airing, over 80 DOS clergy and laity shared their feelings and offered their suggestions to the questions posed by Father Alexander dealing with the current situation in the OCA and what Syosset and the next AAC should be concerned with?
Many expressed their hurt and pain over the disclosure of misdeeds yet there was a sense of frustration that Syosset is not fully coming to grips with the scandal. The “breaking of trust with the faithful is still an open wound” said one speaker. Another commented on how badly the entire episode has been handled which has not led to any sense of confidence in those in charge in Syosset.
When the question came to “What should ‘Syosset do” offerings were more specific. One attendee stated flatly that, “Syosset is irrelevant” and must be further reduced in size and scope. Another said that, “the past model of a strong central church was wrong and that Syosset never could nor should have ever thought it could fix the problems in any given diocese or parish.” “The model of strong Syosset and the facade that we were bigger than we were, was wrong.” Echoing this another comment centered on the understanding that, “Syosset serves the dioceses not the dioceses serving Syosset.”
One participant read a letter from his parish which called into question the lack of reaction by the Holy Synod to warning signs that things were going wrong in Syosset - that a perception of a lack of concern or interest by members of the Holy Synod to issues beyond their respective dioceses was alarming.
Another comment centered on the role of the Metropolitan and that a model of a “papal style” Metropolitan and central church governance is wrong. “The life of the Church is in the diocese” not in Syosset.
When a lay member of the gathering asked the question “Why two Metropolitans directly responsible for the work of Syosset during the years in question have felt no consequences” she followed up her question with a stunning conclusion that, “as long as Metropolitan Herman is in power, it will be business as usual.”
This prompted another speaker to state that, “leadership is influence and Metropolitan Herman has no influence. He must retire.”
Others stated that a new beginning for the OCA must start but it cannot unless Metropolitan Herman steps down. “He is part of the past and not part of the solution nor the future” stated another participant.
Another specific suggestion was made that diocesan not parish representation at future All American Councils should be the model of participation. When it was said that the Statute of the OCA would have to be rewritten to reflect this, another participant later offered that the current OCA Statue needs to be rewritten reflecting a limited role for the Metropolitan so that dioceses can be the focus of Church life. This was illustrated when a participant stated that, “if you look at one OCA diocese that asks its members for $37 to support the work of the diocese and $105 to support the work of Syosset, it is a recipe for disaster if not death for that diocese.”
His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri thanked Father Garklavs for his attentiveness and his willingness to listen to the voices of the members of the Diocese of the South.
After daily Vespers, served by Abbot Jonah (Paffhausen), and a dinner break, the clergy and laity met in respective groups. Priest Stephen Freeman of St. Anne Mission in Oak Ridge, TN lead a lively presentation on the topic “Salvation and the Parish” while the clergy listened to both Archbishop Dmitri and Abbot Jonah who offered his ideas on the importance of ongoing spiritual formation for clergy. Archpriest Paul Lazor - the keynote speaker at this year’s Assembly, also offered his insights on the topic.
Tomorrow, at the morning Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, His Eminence Dmitri will ordain two subdeacons, one deacon and one priest. Later in the day workshops will be conducted and the Diocesan Council will meet in preparation for Thursday’s plenary sessions. Tomorrow will conclude with Father Lazor's keynote address on “Mission and Evangelization - The Breath of the Spirit.” While the keynote address is taking place, Priest Justin Mathews of St. Anne Mission in Oak Ridge, TN will lead a youth and young adult gathering on the theme “Christ is Calling You.”
(Dallas, TX) The second day of the 31st Assembly of the Diocese began with the clergy and faithful gathered around their hierarch at the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. At the liturgy, His Eminence ordained one subdeacon, one deacon and one priest. Subdeacon Paul Hilko was ordained to the Diaconate and Deacon Basil Henry was ordained to the Priesthood.
In the afternoon, the Diocesan Council (made up of one clergy and one lay representative from each DOS deanery) met with His Eminence and approved for presentation to the full Assembly the 2009 DOS budget. Corrections to the budget were made in the area of episcopal travel with an increase of $10,000 to that line-item.
The Council also will create a sub-committee to study the dean’s stipends (currently at $500 per month), as well as study the suggestion of establishing a Diocesan Council budget committee due to the dramatic growth of the diocese in the last few years. Finally a sub-committee may be established to study how to better foster our support for OCMC and IOCC. The Diocesan Council will also name members to the Audit Committee which come from the Diocesan Council.
The most significant decision made by the DOS Diocesan Council was the unanimous support for Archimandrite-elect Jonah (Paffhausen) as the Auxiliary bishop to His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri. With this vote and the support of Abbot Jonah by His Eminence, communication with the Holy Synod of Bishops can now take place so that the Holy Synod can officially act on his candidacy for election.
While the Diocesan Council met, three Parish Development Workshops were conducted and repeated once so that participants could participate in two of the three workshops. Priest Gleb McFatter, priest-in-charge of St Demetrius Church in Naples, FL and a CPA, conducted a reprise of the workshop he offered at last year’s assembly on Clergy Finances and Tax Issues. This year’s workshop also included an analysis of the 2009 DOS Budget to illustrate points about church finances. Another workshop was led by Matushka Christine Zebrun, a member of the OCA Department of Christian Education. Matushka Christine provided examples of current Christian Education materials available through the DCE. Finally a lively roundtable on Church Building Projects was conducted by several clergy of the DOS who have been, currently are, or are ready to start major church building projects. All three parish development workshops were deemed successful by participants.
After Vespers, the delegates gathered at the Assembly hotel to listen to Archpriest Paul Lazor, retired Dean of Students of St Vladimir’s Seminary. Father Paul’s presentation on “Mission and Evangelization, The Breath of the Spirit.” Father Lazor's presentation will be available online in a few days.
The second presentation was from Dr William Abraham of Southern Methodist University, Perkins School of Theology. Dr Abraham shared the desire of SMU to affiliate with the Diocese in the South to offer an Orthodox Studies Program as part of the SMU Master’s of Divinity degree. This effort is akin to the St Arseny Institute in Canada and its affiliation with the University of Manitoba.
Such a relationship has not only great potential for greater Orthodox academic witness in the South but can serve the needs of the DOS in preparing more Orthodox missionaries, both clergy and lay, to plant more missions in the South.
Day Three highlights will include a wrap up of the two Assembly plenary sessions and photos from the DOS Banquet honoring the 30th Anniversary the DOS and 85th birthday celebration of His Eminence.
Day Three at the DOS Assembly
The last full day of the 31st DOS Assembly began with the celebration of daily matins by Hieromonk John (Anderson) abbot of St Michael Skete in Canones, NM. After breakfast the first plenary session was called to order by His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri after the singing of “O Heavenly King.”
The morning plenary session focused on two major areas, the financial reports presented by DOS Treasurer, Milos Konjevich, which included the presentation of the 2009 DOS Budget
. As previously reported here, the DOS Diocesan Council amended the proposed budget by $10,000 increasing the line items for bishops’ travel. In his presentation, Mr. Konjevich pointed to the explosive growth in tithes in the DOS since 2006. This growth has made it possible for the DOS to dramatically increase support to missions and for parish development. Such “expenditures” as denoted in the budget report are, as one delegate noted, “are not really expenditures at all, rather they are investments in missions and parishes helping to promote their growth.” These investments/expenditures are booked against the community as a debit but the debit is then paid back by the tithes the community offers to the DOS. As Mr. Konjevich noted, “the debit has a finite amount and the paid back is a finite period of time, but the tithe is 'forever'.” This close connection between the parishes and missions with the diocese continues to build trust and is making it possible for DOS communities to inspire their faithful to do more to build up the local church.
One example of this working relationship between the DOS and a mission is Holy Ascension in Mt. Pleasant, SC. Holy Ascension
was a beneficiary of an OCA Church Planting Grant. It also received a DOS Planting Grant. In the last 8 years, Holy Ascension received $30,417 from the DOS. In that same period Holy Ascension Tithed $33,028 to the DOS. The result is a full-time priest, a new Church built and consecrated and a growing parish in the suburbs of Charleston, SC. This same type of support is being given to other missions and parishes in the DOS.
This and other examples of “the diocese serving the parishes” can be one important reason why the DOS Tithe Income has grown since 2004 as follows:
DOS Tithe Income in 2008 is projected to exceed the $500,000 level once again.
After discussion, the 2009 DOS Budget was approved as presented by the Diocesan Council.
Before breaking for lunch, Mr. Gary Popovich the lay representative to the Metropolitan Council gave his report to the Assembly. Mr Popovich informed the Assembly of the personnel changes that have been made in Syosset, the cost cutting measures that have taken place, and his general impression that the new team at the Syosset chancery are doing a good job. He was realistic in saying that the new Syosset structure in place will have to be tested over time to see how effective it will be, but that those in place are dedicated to their jobs. He especially praised the work of Father Michael Tassos, the OCA Treasurer for his diligent work in bringing the financial records of Syosset in order.
Mr. Popovich also shared with the Assembly that the Metropolitan Council is now a much more engaged group with direct oversight for finances and personnel in Syosset as well as direct oversight to the several legal issues currently being faced by Syosset.
After the lunch break, Mr Nicholas Chakos, IOCC
Development Director and Father David Rucker, Associate Director for OCMC
made presentations to the Assembly. Both made convincing arguments for the parishes and faithful of the DOS to support the unique work being done by each of these outstanding ministries of the Orthodox Church here in North America.
The Metropolitan Council report continued with Archpriest Philip Reese bringing the Assembly delegates and observers up-to-date on the work of the OCA Special Investigative Committee of the Metropolitan Council, of which he is a member. He stated that the work of the SIC is coming to a close and that the hard work of writing the SIC report will soon begin in time for its presentation to a joint meeting of the Holy Synod of Bishops and the Metropolitan Council in late August. The SIC has set a deadline of August 15 to finish all their work. One delegate in response to Father Philip’s presentation stated that he hopes “the SIC report will be made public as soon as it is delivered to the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council."
In the aftermath of both Mr Popovich’s and Father Reese’s reports, the consensus of the Assembly seemed to be summarized by the comments of Abbot Jonah (Paffhausen) when he said that once the report is made public, it will important for us to digest the findings of the Committee, learn from it and work very hard to begin the healing process so that the work we are called to be doing here in North America can done with a renewed spirit of of dedication to Christ.
The sober and honest reports and the efforts of both Father Reese and Mr. Popovich were gratefully received by His Eminence and the Assembly delegates and observers.
Reports from the two DOS monastic communities were made followed by the DOS deans fielding questions about their reports.
By Statute, the Assembly was presented the unanimous decision of the DOS Diocesan Council to support the nomination of Archimandrite-elect Jonah (Paffhausen) as Auxiliary bishop to His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri. The Assembly itself affirmed the decision by saying “AXIOS” to the vote of the Diocesan Council. As reported to the Diocesan Council, but overlooked at sharing with the Assembly, His Eminence intends to name Abbot Jonah, DOS Chancellor while he also serves as the Archbishop’s Auxiliary Bishop.
His Eminence will write Metropolitan Herman and the secretary of the Holy Synod, Archbishop Seraphim on Monday officially informing them of the decision of the DOS Diocesan Council so that the process begun by the DOS Diocesan Council decision can be accepted and responded to by the Holy Synod.
The site for the 2009 Assembly will be Atlanta, GA with both OCA Atlanta area parishes St Mary of Egypt and St John the Wonderworker acting as co-hosts. The site for the 2009 DOS Pastoral Conference will be Jacksonville, FL with St Justin Martyr Church the host parish.
Elections to the DOS Diocesan Council and Metropolitan Council also took place. Archpriest Philip Reese and Mr Gary Popovich were re-elected to another term on the Metropolitan Council. Each deanery held a caucus to elect their respective lay members to the Diocesan Council. All current members were re-elected except for the lay member from the Central (Orlando) Florida deanery. That seat is vacant and will be filled by means of an election conducted by that deanery at a later date.
Before the closing of the Assembly, the chair heard from one delegate who voiced his concern that the Assembly “rushed through the budget review process and that he felt uneasy about asking a question.” Another delegate expressed his discomfort in the awkward situation in which the Holy Spirit parish in Venice, FL still employes as its lay administrator, the former OCA chancellor. His Eminence stated to the Assembly his previous comments about the situation in Venice and although the status of the former OCA chancellor has changed since he first entered the DOS, he gave the impression that work being done in the Venice parish (and reported in the Venice parish in the deanery report
of the South (Miami) Florida deanery) is very positive.
The chair encouraged the delegates to appreciate that the DOS website and the information presented on it is not “one-way” communication but rather the means by which members of the DOS can communicate with the DOS chancery. Such “two-way” communication is needed if we are to listen and learn from each other so that we can all do our appointed work better in building up the Church.
After the second plenary session was adjourned, daily Vespers were served and the Assembly concluded with the Grand Banquet honoring the 30th Anniversary of the DOS and, in anticipation, the 85th birthday of His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri. The banquet keynote speaker was Archpriest Paul Lazor who reminded the gathered how fortunate they are to have such a dedicated Archpastor who has given his entire life to the work of spreading to Gospel. After the presentation of a commemorative plaque the Archbishop was presented a dozen “Yellow Roses of Texas” calling to remembrance that he too received at the First DOS Assembly 30 years ago a dozen “Yellow Roses of Texas” by the first chancellor of the DOS, the late Archpriest George Gladky.
After a special Anniversary and Birthday cake complete with 85 candles was wheeled into the banquet hall with the singing of “Happy Birthday” and “Many Years”, His Eminence thanked those present for their love and indicated that he is able to rest easier knowing that the work that has been accomplished in the DOS can be handed over--in due time
--to Abbot Jonah. His Eminence further punctuated this with his concluding remark that, “I must decrease so that he may increase.”
A slide show of the of Day Three is below.
On the eve of the commemoration of All Saints of North America, Abbot Jonah (Paffhausen) the supported candidate of His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri and the DOS Diocesan Council for the position of Auxiliary bishop of the DOS, recently presented a paper on the topic of Episcopacy, Primacy and the Mother Churches: A Monastic Perspective,
at the Conference of the Fellowship of Ss. Alban and Sergius. The Conference was held June 4-8, 2008 at St. Vladimir's Seminary.
The paper pays particular attention to the extraordinary reality of this topic as it relates to the Orthodox Church here in North America.
To read the complete paper, click here to download.
Audio version provided by Ancient Faith Radio. Click here
A Personal Reflection: Indicators of the Future
Archpriest Basil Zebrun
Change within any body or organization can be experienced as sudden and may be accompanied by much fanfare, or changes can take place almost imperceptibly, over time. The first type of change is more descriptive of the feelings that followed the birth of our Diocese in 1978 when Orthodox joyfully received the news of Dallas being named the see of a new “entity” within the OCA. This year’s Assembly pointed to the second process mentioned, quietly indicating future changes for the Diocese, some of which may take a while to occur but which offer much promise for the future.
Assembly 2008 was the 31st annual gathering of delegates and observers from around the Diocese and marked the 30th Anniversary of the Diocese of the South. For some people the Assembly was atypical as far as anniversaries go. There was not a great deal of public reminiscing, recalling the specific examples and deeds of early Church leaders. Instead one could sense the missionary fervor of early diocesan founders, as delegates discussed present and future challenges for a growing diocese.
The agenda for the Assembly included daily services, a Celebratory Banquet, a Clergy Conference with Archbishop Dmitri and Archimandrite Jonah (Paffhausen), a Matushki Luncheon with His Eminence and Fr. Jonah, a Keynote Address by Archpriest Paul Lazor, a Lay Workshop lead by Priest Stephen Freeman of Tennessee, a Young Adults Program organized by Priest Justin Mathewes also from Oak Ridge, a Roundtable Discussion on building programs featuring various priests, a Christian Education Workshop presented by Matushka Christine Zebrun, and a Workshop on Church Finances by Priest Gleb McFatter from Naples, Florida. Without going into detail about every aspect of the Assembly I would like to refer to some of the more telling indicators of the Diocese’s overall future, providing a personal interpretation.
Assembly registration began at 1:00 pm on Tuesday, June 24. A Town Hall meeting was convened at 3:00 pm at St. Seraphim’s with His Eminence Archbishop Dmitri and OCA Chancellor, Archpriest Alexander Garklavs. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss and voice concerns and/or confidence about the direction in which the Orthodox Church in America is headed. Similar gatherings are taking place around the country in preparation for the November All American Council.
Participants generally characterized the Town Hall meeting in Dallas as a straightforward and respectful event. The topic for consideration was important, but by no means did it overshadow the overall work of the Diocesan Assembly. To be sure, many in the South are deeply saddened and disappointed by various happenings in the OCA during the past few years, and these specific feelings were indeed expressed at the Town Hall gathering. Nevertheless, the existence within the Diocese of the South of building programs in various stages of development, the founding of new missions within the six deaneries, recent transfers into the Diocese of enthusiastic priests and their families, the reception of well over 100 converts into the Church during the past 12 months throughout the Diocese, as well as some very positive financial reports, indicate that the active membership of the South desires an ongoing commitment to growth and advancement. Generally speaking, the faithful seem unwilling to allow investigations on the national level – as important as they are – as well as speculations and insinuations, to hinder the missionary work of the Church. It is important to note that Fr. Garklavs was present not only for the Tuesday Town Hall meeting but was on site for most of the Assembly for those who wished to talk to him privately or in small groups about their concerns and ideas.
A Clergy Conference was convened Tuesday night in the Cathedral with Archbishop Dmitri and the Abbot Jonah (Paffhausen) from the Monastery of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco in Manton, California. His Eminence addressed the priests and deacons present and then introduced Archimandrite Jonah who spoke about Clergy Formation. The talk was beneficial, in and of itself, but the time provided an added opportunity for clergy to get to know better the man being considered for Auxiliary Bishop for the Diocese of the South. His Eminence and the clergy seemed delighted with the abbot’s overall participation in the Assembly and with his words addressed to the faithful at various times during the three day event. The Archbishop appeared very comfortable with the movement toward acquiring Archimandrite Jonah as an Auxiliary, confident that he can help further the growth of the Diocese. Very important, as well, was the overall reaction of the delegates present. More than once clergy and laity spontaneously proclaimed “axios,” recognizing Archimandrite Jonah’s talents and potential for leadership in this Diocese, as well as his desire to serve Christ. If Archimandrite Jonah is named Auxiliary for the DOS the move should be a smooth one; the impact will be felt immediately.
On Wednesday night, after Vespers and dinner, the Archpriest Paul Lazor, Professor and Dean Emeritus of St. Vladimir Seminary and long time friend of the Archbishop, gave a presentation entitled: Mission and Evangelization: The Breath of the Spirit. Approximately 150 people attended the talk, including three professors from nearby Southern Methodist University. Fr. Paul’s delivery was engaging. His topic was chosen to highlight that which has characterized the main focus of the Diocese from the beginning, and to remind those present of the work yet to be accomplished.
Immediately after Fr. Paul’s presentation, Dr. William Abraham from SMU was asked to provide a report (from the University’s point of view) on the formation of a Pastoral School for the Diocese of the South. Dr. Abraham, also a long time friend of the Archbishop’s and of St. Seraphim Cathedral, has been in talks with His Eminence about a local Pastoral School that would more directly address the needs of missionaries in the South. He essentially stressed that the University is ready and willing to share facilities and access to resources with students enrolled in an Orthodox Christian Course of Studies connected to SMU, and more specifically to Perkins School of Theology. There are those at Southern Methodist who are eager to have an Orthodox presence on campus – in terms of both Orthodox students and professors – and they would like to see the Pastoral School initiated by the fall of 2009. Time will tell.
In addition to the above, a record diocesan budget was passed by Assembly delegates: over $800,000.00. An extended, development needs budget was also approved, adding another $120,000 for an overall possible expenditure total of close to one million dollars in 2009. What adds to the importance of this and future diocesan budgets is that a minimum of 25% of the total budget will be allotted for assistance to missions with building programs and to those with specific plans for parish development. It can be stressed, however, that the assistance is not given as “charity.” In other words the amount available to help communities is looked upon as an “investment” in parishes that are moving forward and that have demonstrated a desire to grow and the ability to put plans into effect.
I would like to quote a visitor to this year’s Assembly who has been involved with missionary work over the years in another part of the country. This person, after looking at the vision of the DOS and its commitment to growth as demonstrated by the financial reports, said, “I was and am proud of the work that we are doing with missions, but you, here in the South, are years ahead of us.” This says a great deal about the future for the Orthodox Church in this Diocese.
And finally, I must refer again to the energy of the Assembly participants. We started each gathering with, “O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth…come and abide in us…” and the Holy Spirit’s action within this gathering was unmistakable, in spite of our admitted sins and weaknesses. The delegates possessed a specific focus and drive; they seemed very much aware of themselves as people with a responsibility, as “a people” consecrated for a particular task: to preach the full Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was coincidence that the Assembly commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the Diocese was convened just before the Sunday of All Saints of America. The timing of the Council, perhaps, could not have been better, for we came out of this gathering and were immediately challenged to follow in the spiritual legacy provided by St. Herman of Alaska, St. Innocent and others. We were challenged by their example to come out of our “comfort zones” and to become incarnations of the Gospel so that, as St. Seraphim said, “thousands around us will be saved.”
(Dallas, TX) With the conclusion of the 2008 DOS Assembly here attention has turned to the reception and placement of several priests who are being accepted into the DOS.
Priest Philip Kontos, 2008 graduate of STS will be assigned to St Peter the Apostle Mission in Jupiter Florida effective in August. Priest Robert Royer has been released from the OCA Bulgarian Diocese and will be the new pastor of Holy Resurrection Church in Aiken, SC effective September 1. Priest Paul Coats, 2008 graduate of SVS is being assigned as second priest at the Nativity of the Virgin Mary Church in Charlotte. He will be assisting at our new mission, St Basil the Great in Wilmington, NC. Priest Basil Henry, ordained at the Assembly, has been released from his attachment to St Mary of Egypt in Norcross, GA and is being assigned to St Luke Mission in Anniston, AL. effective in August. Priest Thomas Alessandroni, retired cleric of the Diocese of the West, has been received into the DOS where he will attached to St Mary of Egypt Church in Norcross and assist in the missionary work of the Atlanta Deanery.
With all these new assignments, we are still in need of more missionary clergy. Our new mission in Montgomery, AL is actively looking for a resident priest. Priest Timothy Ullman is on active duty in the military and thus can be called to overseas assignment at any time.
Archimandrite Jonah (Paffhausen) has been contacted by Syosset to make himself available to be interviewed by two members of the Holy Synod in August. The interview is part of the process of his consideration to be the Auxiliary bishop to His Eminence in the Diocese of the South. As you may recall, Fr. Jonah’s decision to permit his name to be considered as an Auxiliary for His Eminence came after he visited Dallas in April and withdrew his name from consideration for the vacant see in the Diocese of Western Pennsylvania. In May the Holy Synod had no objection to his name being considered once His Eminence made a formal request. In June the Diocesan Council gave its approval as is necessary according to the OCA Statute. Now two members of the Holy Synod will conduct a formal interview with Archimandrite Jonah. If this interview is favorable, his candidacy can then be acted upon by the Holy Synod when it meets. If approved, his election to the episcopacy can take place making him Bishop-elect. His consecration to episcopacy would then take place in Dallas at a time not yet determined.
His Eminence will travel to St Anne Mission in Oak Ridge, TN in August to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Mission. As part of the weekend visit, Subdeacon Edward Innocent Krieg will be ordained to the Holy Diaconate.
Finally, the 2009 Pastoral Conference will hosted again by St Justin the Martyr Church in Jacksonville, FL on February 10-12, 2009. The Diocesan Council will meet in Jacksonville on February 9 and the DOS Deans on the morning of the 10th prior to the start of the Conference later in the day. More details to follow.
It is frequently the case that Orthodox theology uses the word “fullness” to describe its understanding and life of the gospel. This is a far more apt expression than simply saying “we have the truth.” Fullness, I think, better describes something. Truth, in our modern vocabulary, can mean something quite flat - as in a correct answer on a test. However, “fullness” describes not only the truth but the truth with an embodiment, the life of grace, but life as it is lived. The truth, but as it is incarnate.
Part of the celebration in which I participated during this last week, was a recognition on the part of the Diocese of the South (OCA) of a fullness - most particularly as we have experienced in the life and ministry of our Archbishop DMITRI. It is a recognition that for 30 years, the diocese has been formed and shaped by someone whose primary concern has been for the fullness of the faith and its embodiment, both in himself and in his priests, and not simply a concern for the machinery of the diocese.
Most of the priests of the diocese have been ordained by him, and their ministries have been formed and shaped by this living model we have before us.
It is the case in Orthodoxy, that when we speak of Holy Tradition, that, although we mean the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church, we also mean that presence as it is mediated to us in the liturgical life of the Church, in our communion with God, and as embodied in our midst through the ministries which God has set among us. Without the gospel expressed in a life, it is only the gospel as an idea - some abstract. It is the incarnation of the gospel in the ministries in which God has set in His Church that saves us from the obscurity of the Gospel as mere “idea.” Anybody can preach an idea - but an idea that has become incarnate is a different thing. The life itself says more than words, and it gives to its words a meaning that the words would never have by themselves.
That is the experience of the Diocese of the South. We have both heard the Gospel, but it has also been enfleshed among us. I am challenged by the humility of Christ because I have lived with the meekness of my Archbishop.
This, of course, is the great crisis of Christianity. It’s modern temptation is to be reduced to ideas and slogans. Indeed, this has often been its temptation during times of safety. By the grace of God, monastics and other Christians of serious commitment have rescued the gospel from the mediocrity of mere idealism.
Humility is a difficult task, as is the kindness of a good heart. I have never known anything else from my father in God.
I know that “God resists the proud,” and I have seen this illustrated amply in my years of ministry. I know what it is for God to resist my own pride or the pride of a parishioner. I have seen Him resist the pride of those who believe that their titles “entitles” them to something - which is simply not true.
We honored 30 years of the gospel enfleshed in the Diocese of the South last Thursday night at a banquet. We also celebrated the possibility of an Auxiliary Bishop (Jonah Paffhausen) who is himself a model of meekness.
Orthodoxy faces many deep challenges in the modern world. Some of them are brought on us by both the abuses of the past century as well as the new challenges of the present century. Our ecclesiology, which is never more than love (a canon cannot produce the Church), is and will be tested to the maximum. But the world is not hungry for the Canons or for pride of place, but for the self-sacrificing love of Christ and the fullness of His emptiness on the Cross.
The way forward for Orthodoxy in America will only be through the Cross, God help us. But there is no other way forward for anyone, ever, anywhere.
The Cross is the emptiness of God, but also His fullness. The Church will truly embody that fullness only as it embraces the emptiness set before us.
I am only an Orthodox priest with a limited scope of responsibility. I stand in awe of the men who have been brave enough to embrace the Cross of the Episcopacy. I believe that as much as anyone is not more than everyone, they will have to face the temptation to live something less than the Cross. I pray for grace for each and all of them. May God grant us servants of the Cross - crucified Bishops who proclaim the crucified God - crucified priests who proclaim the crucified Christ - crucified laity who proclaim the crucified life of the Gospel.
For this the world has hungered for all its life - for the Crucified life is the only life. May God hear us and keep us. May God give us grace to take up the cross and live for nothing else. Glory to God.
In an on-going effort to keep all members of the DOS informed on the finances of the diocese, Mr. Milos Konjevich, DOS Treasurer today released the six-month financial reports for the Diocese of the South.
The Reports can be downloaded here.
If you have any questions, it is our expectation that you will please contact Mr. Konjevich at 214-522-4149 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Priest Antonio Perdomo, rector of St George the Great-martyr in Pharr, TX, reports that conditions in the region are deteriorating as the Category Two Hurricane Dolly makes landfall in Brownsville, TX.
In his email, Father Antonio shares that upon his return from Holy Archangels Monastery in Kendalia, TX (where one of his parishioners was buried) they were “met by hurricane Dolly. “Here in Pharr at the moment we are having pleasant rains, but that will change within the next couple of hours. It is a category two hurricane at the moment with sustained winds up to 100 miles per hour in places and they expect we could get as much as 15" of rain. Hoping that the emergency response teams will not have be mobilized in this area.”
Please keep Father Perdomo and his family, the parishioners of St George and all those affected by the storm in your prayers. We will keep you posted with any updates we receive.Latest news link
(Dallas, TX) Priest Antionio Perdomo made contact with the DOS Chancery this morning to report that the worst of Hurricane Dolly is over. “Intense rain and winds throughout the night blew down trees and cut power to the entire Valley last night” reports Fr Perdomo calling from his cell phone. “The telephone land lines are out and we are not sure when power will be restored.”
Damage to St George the Great-martyr appears to be limited to some water damage from leaks in the cupola. “Parishioners in Harlingen and Brownsville were hit much harder from the storm with more serious wind and water damage” said Fr Antonio. “We lost some trees on the church property but nothing else.”
When power is restored, Father Perdomo will share storm detail and its aftermath. Please continue to keep all those in the affected areas in your prayers.
Resolutions for the upcoming All American Council are due by August 15 for Statute changes and September 15, 2008 for other resolutions. Resolutions may come from a parish, deanery or the Diocesan Council. If you are interested in submitting a Resolution, you may download here the necessary information on procedures provided by the OCA Pre-Conciliar Commission.
Should you have any questions, you may contact the PCC or the DOS Chancery.
Priest William Mills, rector of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary Church in Charlotte, NC latest book entitled, “Feasts of Faith” Reflections on the Major Feast Days” has been published by the Orthodox Research Institute. “Feasts of Faith” is the latest in a series of books written by Father Mills including, “From Pascha to Pentecost, Prepare O Bethlehem and Baptize All Nations.” According to Father Mills, each book “will serve as a useful resource both for personal reference in conjunction with one’s regular Bible reading and within the context of a parish Bible study.”For more information on ordering “Feasts of Faith” click here.
(Dallas, TX) Archimandrite Jonah (Paffhausen) arrived in Dallas yesterday after spending Monday and Tuesday of this week in Syosset, NY where he was interviewed by His Eminence, Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia as part of his candidacy consideration for the office of Auxiliary Bishop to His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri.
Archimandrite Jonah will spend this week in Dallas meeting with His Eminence and mapping out his future role as Auxiliary bishop should the Holy Synod elect him at their upcoming September meeting in New York.
His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri asks for your continued prayers for Archimandrite Jonah and all the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops as they prayerfully consider this decision that will impact the future of the Diocese of the South.
(Dallas, TX) Archimandrite Jonah (Paffhausen) visited St Seraphim Cathedral here this past weekend to continue discussions with His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri and DOS Chancery staff should his election to the episcopacy take place in September at the upcoming meeting of the Holy Synod. Archimandrite Jonah’s roles as Auxiliary bishop to His Eminence and Chancellor of the DOS are being formulated in anticipation of his move to Dallas in mid-September. Remodeling of the DOS chancery office is underway to make more office space for the new Auxiliary bishop.
Archbishop Seraphim of Canada and Bishop Tikhon of Eastern Pennsylvania interviewed Father Jonah last week in Syosset. According to Father Jonah the interview was cordial and frank. If the Holy Synod acts on his candidacy and elects Archimandrite Jonah as Auxiliary bishop-elect, His Eminence would prefer to have the consecration of Father Jonah in Dallas in late October. This, of course, will depend on many factors including the availability of other bishops to participate in the consecration. As details become available they will be shared on the DOS website.
His Eminence will travel to St Anne Mission in Oak Ridge, TN this weekend to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the community. Priest Stephen Freeman, priest-in-charge and dean of the Appalachian Deanery will also lead a deanery meeting this Friday upon the arrival of the Archbishop in Oak Ridge.
During the visit to Tennessee, His Eminence will distribute three antimins to be used at DOS missions. New antimins for Holy Resurrection Church in Aiken, SC, St Basil the Great Mission in Wilmington, NC and Protection of the Virgin Mary Mission in Clarksville, TN will be given. Priest Robert Royer is the new priest-in-charge in Aiken while St Basil the Great is being serviced by Carolinas Deanery clergy until a resident priest is assigned next year. The new Protection Mission in Clarksville is an outgrowth of a military chaplaincy that was led by Priest Peter Dubinin. Father Peter has worked closely with the military group to develop them into an “off-base” community. In response, the Protection Mission community secured a worship location off base, are tithing to the DOS and will be serviced twice monthly from St. Anne in Oak Ridge with Priest Justin Mathews overseeing their spiritual life.
Another new cleric in the DOS, Priest Philip Kontos is settling into his role as priest-in-charge at St Peter Mission in Jupiter, FL. He reports increased participation at the mission since his arrival and new catechumens beginning instruction. And a big thank you to Archpriest James Mason who has filled in at St Peter’s for the past two years doing a wonderful job of preparing the mission for Father Philip. God bless you Father James and Matushka Patty.
Speaking of new catechumens, Holy Spirit Church in Venice reports 5 new catechumens and record summer attendance averaging 60+ during the usually “low season” in Florida. Venice is also embarking on an expansion program to double the worship space of the church and add a parish hall.
Please keep all of our faithful in South Florida and the Gulf Coast in your prayers as Tropical Storm Faye bears down on them. Reports from parishes yesterday in the area indicate that faithful in the affected areas are shuttering their homes and procuring drinking water and food in the aftermath of the storm.
DOS Mission Director, Archpriest Ted Pisarchuk continues to keep a busy schedule. He visited our mission-station in Baton Rogue, LA to hep in their development. Lay leader, Mark Christian has taken is OCA Diaconal Vocations Program final exam. It is anticipated that he will pass the exam and seek ordination to the diaconate. Mark is a former Episcopal cleric.
Archpriest Joseph Fester, dean of the Southcentral deanery will make a mission visit to our mission-station in Alpine, TX August 30-31. The community there has identified a parcel of land which they are asking the Archbishop to consider giving a blessing to purchase as a site for a future church. Another Southcentral mission, All Saints in Victoria, TX. continues with its pursuit to build a church on land they purchased last year.
Archpriest Theodore Panchak will retire from active ministry this month. Father Ted was the rector of Dormition of the Theotokos Church in Norfolk, VA. Archpriest Andrew Nelko, currently active duty naval chaplain will oversee the parish’s spiritual life. We wish Father Ted “Many Years!”
Resolutions for the upcoming All-American Council are still being accepted. Please refer to the OCA or DOS websites for additional information and Resolution forms.
Please keep His Eminence in your prayers as he travels to New York September 2-5 for the Holy Synod meeting and the meeting of the Metropolitan Council with the Holy Synod.
Priest Stephen Freeman, dean of the Appalachian deanery and priest-in-charge of St Anne Mission in Oak Ridge, TN continues to bring the Orthodox Faith to people around the world through his blog “Glory to God for All Things.”
Recently the blog was awarded the “Best Blog by an Individual.” In accepting the award, Father Stephen wrote,
“I am deeply grateful for the kindness of others (reader's in particular) in voting this blog the award in the area of "Best Individual Blog". I generally do not describe myself as an "Eastern Christian" (as in only "one of several kinds of Eastern Christians") but as an "Orthodox Christian" which certainly extends beyond the Christian East. But that is a matter for a broader ecclesiastical discussion. I appreciate the kindness and thoughtfulness of others, both Orthodox and non-Orthodox who make up the many readers of this blog and hope that I can continue to offer material that is worth reading.”
Each day, Father Stephen writes a new and faith deepening and thought provoking article. His blog is a fresh reminder of the good that the internet can provide in sharing the Orthodox faith and offering the invitation of Christ to “come and see.”
Congratulations and Many Years
to Priest Stephen Freeman for all he does to bring the Orthodox faith and Church to those searching for the Truth that is Jesus Christ.
(Dallas, TX) His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri will fly to New York today to participate in the upcoming meeting of the Holy Synod of Bishops and the Metropolitan Council.
On Wednesday, the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council will hear the report of the Special Investigative Committee headed by His Grace, Bishop Benjamin. Depending on the results of that report it is expected that both the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council will react with public statements. During the recent Town Hall meetings, OCA Chancery personnel have promised that the full SIC report would be made public.
On Thursday the Holy Synod is scheduled to take up their final consideration of the candidacy of Archimandrite Jonah (Paffhausen) as auxiliary bishop to His Eminence. An announcement of the Holy Synod’s decision will be posted on the DOS website when it is made public. If the Holy Synod elects Archimandrite Jonah, his title would be “Bishop-elect of Fort Worth and Auxiliary to Archbishop Dmitri.” Archimandrite Jonah will also be the Chancellor for the Diocese of the South. It is expected that His Grace, Bishop Benjamin will release Archimandrite Jonah to His Eminence Archbishop Dmitri this week. No date has been set for the consecration of Archimandrite Jonah but it is the wish of Archbishop Dmitri that it take place in late October or early November before the All-American Council.
His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri asks that the clergy and faithful of the Diocese of the South pray for the members of the Holy Synod and the members of the Metropolitan Council as they deliberate this week.
(Dallas, TX) One day after the delivery of the Special Investigative Committee report, the Holy Synod of Bishops began the hard work of reshaping the future of the Orthodox Church in America and the Diocese of the South with the election of Archimandrite Jonah (Paffhausen) as Bishop-elect of Fort Worth, Auxiliary to Archbishop Dmitri.
A graduate of St Vladimir’s Seminary, Bishop-elect Jonah was the abbot of St John the Wonderworker Monastery in Manton, California (Diocese of the West) until his election today. Bishop-elect Jonah will arrive in Dallas September 11 and begin his duties as Chancellor of the DOS. He will continue in that position after his consecration to the episcopacy. A date for the consecration is not yet set but His Eminence Archbishop Dmitri is hopeful that it can take place before the All-American Council in November.
His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri will release an Archpastoral Letter tomorrow regarding Bishop-elect Jonah to the Diocese of the South.
More news will be posted here when it becomes available.
In a day of historic firsts, the Holy Synod of Bishops has accepted the retirement of Metropolitan Herman and has restricted the activities of Metropolitan Theodosius as a result of the devastating SIC report released yesterday. His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri has been named Locum tenens
“of the Orthodox Church in America. The press release reads as follows
"The Holy Synod of Bishops resolves that His Eminence, DMITRI, Archbishop of Dallas and the South, be Locum tenens
of The Orthodox Church in America. In liturgical commemorations, he is to be commemorated as ‘His Eminence, DMITRI, Locum tenens
of the Metropolitan See."
Later in the day the Holy Synod announced that Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa was named the temporary administrator for the diocese of Washington and New York, the See of the Metropolitan.
Metropolitan Herman did not attend today's Holy Synod meeting nor the meeting with the Metropolitan Council yesterday. He was said to have cleaned out his desk on Monday when he left Syosset. The OCA website
is further reporting that Metropolitan Theodosius has been restricted by the Holy Synod to only participate in liturgical services, when invited at St John the Baptist Church in Canonsburg, PA.
September 5, 2008
Prophet Zachariah and the Righteous Elizabeth,
parents of St. John the Baptist
“The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9: 37-38)
Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
The Diocese of the South has turned a significant page in its short but fruitful history. Thirty years from the time of the first Assembly in Miami, Florida the Lord has answered a prayer with the election of Archimandrite Jonah (Paffhausen) to the Episcopacy who will take up responsibilities as Auxiliary Bishop and Chancellor for the Diocese of the South. It gives me great pleasure to welcome Archimandrite Jonah into our midst. I pray that in the years ahead he will experience the joy which has been mine since 1978, working with clergy and laymen in the South whose dedication to evangelism is unquestionable and inspiring.
A number of faithful have asked about specific changes in administration that will come about with the advent of Archimandrite Jonah. Indeed, as both Auxiliary and Chancellor his duties will be quite varied, his schedule undoubtedly demanding. Archimandrite Jonah will work directly with me in helping to administer the Diocese of the South. He will in turn work closely with the chancery staff, deans, parish priests and faithful to facilitate our missionary efforts in the South.
With the advent of Archimandrite Jonah come increased possibilities for expanding and strengthening our evangelistic efforts. Many people in the Diocese have not yet had an opportunity to meet him. Therefore, let me say by way of introduction that he is a gifted person, eager to serve, who has demonstrated leadership abilities. In addition he is theologically adept, an accomplished writer and speaker and a man of vision who understands the centrality of prayer as well as mission work in the Christian life. He loves his fellow man and is able to identify with the words of the Apostle, “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).
We are truly blessed by the addition of Archimandrite Jonah to our Diocesan family. I ask each member of the Diocese to join me in this welcome and to pray that our Lord will give him the necessary strength and wisdom to carry on with future responsibilities. May God grant him many years!
With love in Christ,+DMITRI
Archbishop of Dallas and the South
Locum tenens of the Metropolitan See.pdf version
For those who will be traveling to Dallas for the consecration of Bishop-elect Jonah (Paffhausen) the DOS has added travel information including airline links, driving directions to St Seraphim Cathedral and hotel reservation links.
All consecration events will be held at St Seraphim Cathedral including receptions on Friday evening, Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon. Click here to go to the Consecration Page for more information.
(Dallas, TX) Working on one day notice due to Hurricane Ike heading toward Houston, Sister Magdalen from the Orthodox Monastery of St John the Baptist in Essex, England Houston retreat has been moved to North Texas where parts of her retreat will be held at St Seraphim Cathedral here, St Maximus Mission in Denton and St Sava Church in Plano this weekend. The original retreat was scheduled to be hosted by Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Houston, but had to be canceled.
Sister Magdalen is the author of "Children in the Church Today - An Orthodox Perspective" published by SVS Press.
The Working Schedule Is As Follows and is subject to change:
Friday, September 12
St Seraphim Cathedral 4208 Wycliff Avenue, Dallas 75219
6:30PM Reader or Daily Vespers
7:00PM Presentation by Sister Magdalen - "Busy Lives, Spiritual Lives" Question and Answer session to follow. Refreshments served
Saturday, September 13
St Maximus Mission 2026 West Oak, Denton TX (940) 565-6753
10:00AM Sister Magdalen will reprise her talk "Busy Lives, Spiritual Lives" with Question and Answer session to follow. Lunch served.
Great Vespers for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church (Program pending will update later)
Sunday, September 14
St Seraphim Cathedral, Dallas
9:30AM Festal Divine Liturgy for the Exaltation of the Cross
12:00PM Sister Magdalen will meet with children Grades 6-12 on the topic "God in My Life"
Time TBA Sunday Evening
St Sava Church, Plano (Program pending)
Fr Marcus Burch in the Holy Land
Fr Marcus Burch in the Holy Land
Russian Mission Faithful in Jacksonville, FL
Russian Mission Faithful in Jacksonville, FL
As we all know by now, His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri
has accepted the responsibility by his brother bishops on the Holy Synod to be the Locum tenens of the Orthodox Church in America, and specifically of the Metropolitan’s See with the retirement of Metropolitan Herman. His Eminence has stated that his goal is to lead the Church to the upcoming All-American Council so that we may elect a new Metropolitan.
His Eminence, Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa is now functioning as the Temporary Administrator for the Diocese of Washington and New York. Together with Archbishop Dmitri and other members of the Holy Synod the workload of the central church administration is being administered and coordinated with the chancery in Syosset.
In the midst of these historic changes, Bishop-elect Jonah has arrived in Dallas and is starting to take up his duties as DOS Chancellor. Father Jonah will travel to Florida next week to meet with Archpriest Mark Stevens, dean of the Orlando deanery and Archpriest Philip Reese, dean of the Miami deanery. There will also be a deanery meeting in Miami.
Consecration plans continue to progress for Bishop-elect Jonah the weekend of October 31 and November 1 here. In addition to Archbishop Dmitri, His Grace Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia, His Grace Bishop Benjamin of San Francisco and His Grace Bishop Alejo, Auxiliary bishop of the Mexican Exarchate will be consecrators. Two ordinations will take place during the consecration weekend, Philip Majkrzak to the diaconate and Deacon John Hays to the Priesthood.
Clergy and faithful from both the DOS and the DOW are expected to attend. A carload of monks from St John the Wonderworker in Manton, CA (Fr. Jonah’s monastery where he was Abbot) are planning on driving out for the weekend. Please check the Consecration Page on the DOS website
for the Consecration schedule and travel assistance.
Priest John Filipovich will be circuit riding missions in the Dallas deanery starting this week. He will be making regular weekend visitations to Alpine, TX and he will be working with DOS Mission Director, Archpriest Ted Pisarchuk and Dallas dean, Archpriest Joseph Fester with emerging communities in Round Rock, TX and Clovis, NM. Please keep Father John in your prayers as he travels the great expanse of Texas and New Mexico.
With the arrival of Bishop-elect Jonah in Dallas, His Eminence Archbishop Dmitri has given his blessing for the start of the St. Issac the Syrian Skete here. More details forthcoming.
Talks continue with the Perkins School of Theology of Southern Methodist University concerning the start of the Orthodox Studies Program at SMU. More details forthcoming.
Three DOS priests are on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Priest Stephen Freeman from St. Anne in Oak Ridge, TN, Priest John Parker from Holy Ascension in Mt. Pleasant, SC and Priest Marcus Burch from St John the Ladder in Greenville, SC. You will notice from the above picture that Fr Burch is either in ecstatic prayer or he is not too sure about the disposition of his mode of transportation!!! Please keep them in your prayers for safe travel. Archpriest Ernesto Rios and Matushka Marta will be off to Russia in October for a pilgrimage paid for by his flock.St Cyprian of Carthage Church in Richmond, VA
has gained occupancy of their new temple and the sale of their old property is going forward. Consecration of the new temple will be early next year.Holy Apostle Church in Tulsa/Bixby, OK
will be consecrated October 3 and 4, 2008. His Eminence, Bishop-elect Jonah and area clergy and faithful will be in attendance.
The Russian mission outreach from St Justin Martyr Church in Jacksonville, FL continues to grow at a rapid pace. 77 faithful gathered for a recent Slavonic Liturgy. Hieromonk Arkady (Migunov) is doing a wonderful job working with Fr Ted Pisarchuk to minister to all the members of St Justin’s.
All parishes and faithful in both Florida and Texas are safe after the recent spate of Hurricanes and Tropical storms to hit both states. We give thanks unto the Lord for being merciful to so many and pray for those who lost their lives due to the storms.
With the blessing of His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri, the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is asking for the help of all members of the DOS and the Orthodox Church in America to assist those who have been impacted by the recent hurricanes in the USA.
Dearly Beloved in the Lord:
The recent hurricane to hit Texas has again reminded us how powerful are the forces of nature, how fragile life is and how quickly those things we think we possess can disappear.
The Orthodox Church continues to be blessed by dedicated men and women who represent IOCC. Their qualified and professional emergency response staff and volunteers are currently in Texas to assess post-hurricane Ike damage and to determine whether or not IOCC has the resources necessary to assist our Orthodox brothers and sisters in the area as well as the non-Orthodox.
Our financial support at this time will make it possible for people who have lost everything to start rebuilding their lives. In addition to our financial support IOCC is encouraging us to package and ship IOCC Emergency Relief Kits.
People are in dire need of these kits which in the past have proven to be one of the most useful items for people recovering from a disaster. Preparing these kits is a tangible way for us to reach out to others directly impacted by hurricane Ike.
I encourage you to join hands with IOCC and take advantage of their experience in emergency response so that we can do our part to help those in need.
With love in Christ,+DMITRI
Archbishop of Dallas and the South
Locum Tenens of the Metropolitan’s SeeIOCC Hurricane Relief Donations
IOCC Emergency Relief Kits
Holy Relics Sealed into Altar
Holy Relics Sealed into Altar
Altar is Vested
Altar is Vested
The Eucharist is Prepared
The Eucharist is Prepared
Archbishop Blesses Fatihful
Archbishop Blesses Fatihful
Fathe Ambrose Greets His Eminence
Fathe Ambrose Greets His Eminence
Archbishop Greeted By Faithful At Vespers
Archbishop Greeted By Faithful At Vespers
Holy Apostles Choir
Holy Apostles Choir
Bishop-elect Jonah Anoints Faithful
Bishop-elect Jonah Anoints Faithful
Five years ago a small group of Orthodox Christians from the greater Tulsa, OK area drove to Dallas, TX to attend the Divine Liturgy at St Seraphim Cathedral and meet with His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI. The result of the meeting was that the Tulsa group wanted a church in Tulsa like St. Seraphim’s! Thus began Holy Apostles Church.
Priest Seraphim Hipsh, associate priest at St Seraphim’s at the time was assigned with work with the nascent group and get them organized. Later upon his graduation from seminary, Priest Ambrose Arrington was assigned to Holy Apostle Mission in Tulsa. A storefront was secured and a regular worship cycle was established and the work of building a church began.
Land was acquired in the outskirts of Tulsa in Bixby, OK and the process of developing the land began in earnest. A master plan was developed including a chapel, a parish center, a parish cemetery, rectory, and main church. The chapel was completed has been built, the parish center completed and this past weekend, His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri consecrated the St Matthew Chapel of Holy Apostles Church.
Along with priest-in-charge Ambrose Arrington, Bishop-elect Jonah, Archpriest Joseph Fester (dean of the Dallas deanery) Archpriest Basil Zebrun, Priest Justin Fredericks, Priest Seraphim Hipsh along with Fr. George Eber from the local Antiochian parish and Father Raphael Moore from the local Ukrainian Orthodox parish.
Great Vespers were served on Friday evening with the consecration taking place on Saturday morning. His Eminence, in his remarks to the gathered faithful stated that, “in five short years the Lord has blessed Holy Apostles no only with growth in numbers but a grow in spirit and commitment to spread the Gospel of Christ.” Already Holy Apostles is looking to begin an outreach to a nearby town where a group of Orthodox are gathered.
And the work continues!
St Paul the Apostle Mission in Denison, TX is in the midst of another building program this time the construction of its new Activity Center.
Priest Michael Storozuk, priest-in-charge, recently hosted His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri and Bishop-elect Jonah as they were driving north from Dallas to Tulsa for the consecration of St Matthew Chapel of Holy Apostles Church. His Eminence was very pleased with the progress being made on the Center which will provide amble space for education and fellowship activities at St. Paul’s. Additionally, the new Center will have office space for Father Michael.
When the new Center is finished, sometime before Christmas, the existing church building, which has temporarily included a small fellowship hall and kitchen and narthex will be converted into more nave space and a narthex.
You can see more construction photos click here.
With the blessing of His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri, the DOS has established a new Liturgical Music Committee headed by Subdeacon Anthony Stokes of St Maximus the Confessor Mission in Denton, TX.
The LMC will provide quality settings of music to correspond with Archbishop Dmitri’s translation of the Divine Liturgy in the DOS Priest Service Book. The same Priest Service Book is the preferred service book for priests in the OCA Diocese of the West and is used by many clergy in other dioceses of the OCA. The musical settings will also include those for small choirs. In addition to providing music, the LMC will plan educational events and workshops throughout the DOS.
The LMC members include five choir directors and two clergy as follows:
Subdeacon Anthony Stokes - Denton, TX., (email@example.com), Gabrielle Bronzich Plano, TX., (firstname.lastname@example.org), Priest Marcus Burch - Greenville, SC. (email@example.com), Deacon Paul Hilko -Port St Lucie, FL. (firstname.lastname@example.org), Denise Norman - Rincon, GA. (email@example.com), Reader Nicholas Paraskevas - Dallas, TX (firstname.lastname@example.org), and Subdeacon John Norman Wood - Clinton, MS (email@example.com).
The LMC welcomes all comments, suggestions and offers of assistance. To find out more about the LMC, please contact Subdeacon Anthony Stokes at or visit the LMC section on the DOS website.
His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew addressed the leaders of the world's Orthodox churches on Friday, October 10, 2008, for the official opening of the Synaxis of the Heads of the Orthodox Churches and Pauline Symposium. The three-day meeting is being held at the Patriarchal Cathedral of Saint George in Istanbul, Turkey. The church leaders will later travel to sites visited by Saint Paul in Turkey and Greece later this week.
Address by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Synaxis of the Heads of Orthodox Churches
Phanar, October 10, 2008
1. We offer praise and glory to the Trinitarian God that we have been counted worthy once again to gather in the same place, here at this Sacred Center, as persons entrusted by His mercy with the ministry of leadership in the local most holy Autocephalous and Autonomous Orthodox Churches, in order to affirm our sacrosanct unity in Christ and deliberate on matters that concern the Church in the fulfillment of its mission within the contemporary world.
It is with much gladness and ineffable joy that our most holy Church of Constantinople and we personally welcome you all, the most venerable and reverend Heads of the local most holy Orthodox Churches, as well as the representatives of those unable to attend in person, together with your honorable entourages. We greet each one of you warmly with a sacred embrace, exclaiming with the Psalmist: "How wonderful and sweet it is for brethren to dwell in the same place." We express our gratitude to all of you for responding with eagerness and fraternal love to the invitation of our Modesty that we might assemble here; for you have undergone sacrifice and toil in order to travel to our City. We deeply appreciate this response on your part as evidence of brotherly love, but also of concern for the support and reaffirmation of unity within the most holy Orthodox Church, for whose unity we have been assigned guardians, keepers and guarantors by divine grace.
2. From the moment that, by God's mercy, we assumed the reins of this First Throne among Churches, we have regarded it as our sacred obligation and duty to strengthen the bonds of love and unity of all those entrusted with the leadership of the local Orthodox Churches. Thus, in response also to the desire of other brothers serving as Heads, we took the initiative of convoking several occasions for Synaxis: first, in this City on the Sunday of Orthodoxy in 1992; then, on the sacred island of Patmos in 1995; and thereafter, we had the blessing of experiencing similar encounters and concelebrations in Jerusalem and the Phanar on the occasion of the beginning and end of the year 2000 as we entered this third millennium of the Lord's era.
Of course, these occasions for Synaxis do not comprise an "institution" by canonical standards. As known, the sacred Canons of our Church assign the supreme responsibility and authority for decisions on ecclesiastical matters to the Synodical system, wherein all hierarchs in active ministry participate either in rotation or in plenary. This canonical establishment is by no means substituted by the Synaxis of the Heads of Churches. Nevertheless, from time to time, such a Synaxis is deemed necessary and beneficial, especially in times like ours, when the personal encounter and conversation among responsible leaders in all public domains of human life is rendered increasingly accessible and essential. Therefore, the benefit gained from a personal encounter of the Heads of the Orthodox Churches can, with God's grace, only prove immense.
3. This Synaxis, beloved brothers in the Lord, occurs within the context of a great anniversary for the Orthodox Church and, indeed, for the entire Christian world. While the precise date of the birth of St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, is not known, it is conventionally estimated around the year 8AD, namely two thousand years ago. This has led other Christian Churches, such as the Roman Catholic Church, to dedicate the present calendar year as the Year of St. Paul; it was clear that the Orthodox Church, which owes so much to this supreme Apostle, could not do otherwise.
The first and greatest obligation to St. Paul is the preaching and entire Apostolic ministry of this "chosen vessel of Christ" in founding the Churches that today lie within the jurisdiction of the Orthodox Patriarchates and Autocephalous Churches, for example in Asia Minor, Antioch, Cyprus and Greece. Bearing this obligation in mind, the Ecumenical Patriarchate decided to organize a journey of pilgrimage in certain regions within its canonical confines where St. Paul preached, and fraternally to invite thereto the other Heads of the most holy Orthodox Churches in order that together we may honor the infinite labors and sacrifices, as well as all that was endured and realized by St. Paul "with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless floggings, and often near death ... on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from [his] own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many sleepless nights, hungry and thirsty, often without food, cold and naked." (2 Cor. 11.23-7) And all this with in order to found and establish the Churches, whose pastoral care and direction the Lord's mercy has also assigned to us.
Another obligation before St. Paul's "labor of love" relates to his teaching, articulated in his epistles and the "Acts of the Apostles" written by his coworker in the Gospel, St. Luke the Evangelist. This teaching expresses "the exceptional character of the revelations" (2 Cor. 12.7), of which St. Paul was counted worthy by the grace of the Lord, and has remained through the centuries a guide and compass for the Church of Christ, the foundation of the doctrines of our faith, and an inviolable rule of faith and life for all us Orthodox Christians. The theology of the Church has always drawn and will continue to draw from the depth and breadth of concepts in St. Paul's teaching.
4. This is why we deemed it appropriate, in the context of these Pauline celebrations, to organize an international and inter-Christian scholarly symposium, where select participants from the Orthodox Church and from other Christian Churches and Confessions may address and analyze topics related to various dimensions of St. Paul's life and teaching as we journey in pilgrimage and visit the sacred places where the Apostle to the Gentiles preached and ministered. The texts of their presentations will be published in a special volume, which will hopefully contribute to Pauline studies.
As will undoubtedly become clear from the proceedings of this symposium, the teaching of St. Paul does not simply concern the past; it has -- today as ever -- immediate relevance in our times. For our own Synaxis in particular, this teaching is extremely significant, chiefly with regard to one of its fundamental aspects, namely its emphasis on the crucial and always topical subject of the unity of the Church, which -- as we mentioned earlier -- constitutes a great responsibility and concern for all Bishops in the Church, and especially the Heads of Churches.
5. St. Paul is perhaps the first theologian of Church unity. Since its foundation, the Church experienced unity as a fundamental feature of its life. After all, this was an explicit desire of the Church's founder, expressed with particular emphasis in the prayer to His Father just prior to His passion: "I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be one in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one. I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one." (John 17.20-3) However, St. Paul is the first to develop and explore this unity in detail; and he toiled for this unity like no other among the Apostles.
Indeed, just as St. Paul preached the Gospel enthusiastically, so also did he labor for Church unity passionately. His "anxiety for all the churches" (2 Cor. 11.28) and their unity in Christ consumed his entire existence. As St. John Chrysostom observes: "He bore responsibility not only for a home but for cities, provinces, nations and the whole oikoumene; indeed, he was anxious about so many and so diverse important matters, for which he suffered alone and cared even more than a father for his children." (PG 61.571B)
Nothing else brought such sorrow to the Apostle's heart than the lack of unity and love among members of the Church: "If you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another," he writes with great pain to the Galatians. (Gal. 5.15) Moreover, addressing the Corinthians, he appeals to them "by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no division among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose." (1 Cor. 1.10) When he ascertains that the faithful in Corinth are divided into parties, he cries out in sadness: "Has Christ been divided?" (1 Cor, 1.13)
Truly, then, for St. Paul, schism in the Church is as frightening and horrible as the division of Christ Himself. For, according to the great Apostle, the Church is "the body of Christ," comprising Christ Himself. "Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it," he writes to the Corinthians. (1 Cor. 12.27) We all know how St. Paul insists on characterizing the Church as "the body of Christ," an image he articulates extensively in the twelfth chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians. This concept is not metaphorical, but ontological in content. Division in the Church renders the very body of Christ divided. In fact, division is so repulsive and horrible for St. John Chrysostom, according to his interpretation of St. Paul's letters, that he claims not even martyrdom can erase the sin of someone that causes division or insists on division.
Consequently, we could ask what St. Paul might say today if he were to encounter the indifference of so many of our contemporaries for the restoration of unity in the Church. Surely he would rebuke them harshly, as perhaps he might do with each of us in our tolerance or neglect before the numerous schisms and divisions invoking the name of Christ or even the name of Orthodoxy. One cannot properly honor St. Paul if one does not simultaneously labor for the unity of the Church.
6. It is this kind of struggle for the unity of the Church that St. Paul undertook with a view to bridging the gap between the judaizing Christian Jews and those from the Gentiles. Among the churches founded by St. Paul within the world of the Gentiles and that in Jerusalem, it is well known that there existed differences seriously threatening the fabric of the early Church. These differences were related to whether or not one should keep the precepts of the Mosaic Law, culminating especially in the practice or not of circumcision also among the gentile Christians. Paul's attitude on this matter was particularly instructive. In his attitude, we may discern the first seeds of Church practice, which later became known in the canon law of our Orthodox Church as "economy" (or dispensation, oikonomia). Just like the Law of Moses, the Sacred Canons must be respected; nevertheless, they cannot also fail to take into consideration the human person, for which after all the Sabbath (namely, the Law) was made, in accordance with the familiar phrase of the Lord (cf. Mark 2.27). Echoing the spirit of our Lord, St. Paul insisted on his position and thereby pointed to the way of "oikonomia" in order not to disrupt Church unity by imposing unbearable burdens on the shoulders of the weak.
However, even the manner with which St. Paul chose to preserve Church unity at that very critical moment was enlightening. At Paul's initiative, a solution was reached by convoking a Council in Jerusalem, which by the grace of the Holy Spirit ultimately safeguarded the unity of the Church (cf. Acts 15). Thus, while Paul was convinced of the correctness of his opinion, he was not satisfied in persisting on what he believed to be true. His passion for the unity of the Church led him to the only possible and valid defense of his position, which lies in the conciliar decision itself. The Church upheld this way through the ages, defining through Synods alone what is truthful and what is heretical. It is only in our times that we observe among Orthodox the phenomenon of individuals or groups vociferating their opinions, sometimes persistently opposing conciliar decisions of the Churches. Yet, according to the example of St. Paul as well as the Church through the centuries, both truth and Church unity are only preserved synodically.
7. At the same time, for St. Paul, Church unity is not merely an internal matter of the Church. If he insists so strongly on maintaining unity, it is because Church unity is inextricably linked with the unity of all humanity. The Church does not exist for itself but for all humankind and, still more broadly, for the whole of creation.
St. Paul describes Christ as the "second" or "final" Adam, namely as humanity in its entirety (cf. 1 Cor. 15.14 and Rom. 5.14). And "just as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ." (1 Cor. 15.22; cf. Rom. 5.19) Just as the human race is united in Adam, so also "all things are gathered up in [Christ], both things in heaven and things on earth." (Eph. 1.10) As St. John Chrysostom remarks, this "gathering up" (or recapitulation, anakephalaiosis) signifies that "one head had been established for all, namely the incarnate Christ, for both humans and angels, the human and divine Word. And he gathered them under one head so that there may be complete union and contiguity." (PG 62.16)
Nevertheless, this "recapitulation" of the entire world in Christ is not conceived by St. Paul outside the Church. As he explains in his letter to the Colossians (1.16-18), in Christ "all things in heaven and on earth were created and ... in him all things hold together" precisely because "he is the head of the body, the Church." "[God] has made him the head over all things for the Church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all." (Eph. 1.22-3) For St. Paul, then, Christ is the head of all -- of all people and all creation -- because He is at the same time head of the Church. The Church as the body of Christ is not fulfilled unless it assumes in itself the whole world.
There are many useful conclusions that we may gain from this ecclesiology of St. Paul. We confine ourselves to pointing out, first, the importance -- for the life of the Church in general and for the ministry of us all in particular -- of the duty of mission. The evangelization of God's people, as well as of those who do not believe in Christ, constitutes the supreme obligation of the Church. This obligation -- at least, when it is not realized aggressively (as was the case in the past, primarily in Western Christianity) or deceptively (as is the case with various forms of proselytism) but with love, humility and respect for the cultural particularity of each person -- responds to the Lord's desire that, through the unity of the Church, "the world may believe" in Him. (John 17.21) So we must in every way encourage and support the external mission of the Church wherever it is practiced, particularly in the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Alexandria within the vast continent of Africa.
However, even within our Churches, the need and obligation to evangelize is today rendered imperative. We must become conscious of the fact that in contemporary societies, especially in the context of western civilization, faith in Christ can in no way be taken at all for granted. Orthodox theology cannot today be developed or expounded without dialogue with modern currents of philosophical thought and social dynamics, as well as with various forms of art and culture of our times. In this regard, the message and overall word of Orthodoxy cannot be aggressive, as it often unfortunately is; for this is of no benefit at all. Rather, it must be dialectical, dialogical and reconciliatory. We must first understand other people and discern their deeper concerns; for, even behind disbelief, there lies concealed the search for the true God.
Finally, the connection between the unity of the Church and the unity of the world, on which the Apostle to the Gentiles insists, imposes on us the need to assume the role of peacemaker within a world torn by conflicts. The Church cannot -- indeed, it must not -- in any way nurture religious fanaticism, whether consciously or subconsciously. When zeal becomes fanaticism, it deviates from the nature of the Church, particularly the Orthodox Church. By contrast, we must develop initiatives of reconciliation wherever conflicts among people either loom or erupt. Inter-Christian and inter-religious dialogue is the very least of our obligations; and it is one that we must surely fulfill.
However, the modern world is unfortunately plagued by a crisis that cannot be reduced to inter-personal relations but extends to the relationship between humanity and the natural environment. According to St. Paul, as we have already observed, Christ constitutes the head of all, of things visible and invisible, namely of all creation, while the Church as His body unites not only humanity but the whole of creation. Therefore, it is abundantly clear that the Church cannot remain idle before the crisis that affects humanity in relation to the natural environment. It is our obligation to assume every possible initiative: first, so that our own flock may become aware of the demand for respect toward creation by avoiding any abuse or irrational use of natural resources; second, so that we may support every effort that aspires to the protection of God's creation. For, as everyone acknowledges, the cause of the ecological crisis is profoundly spiritual, primarily due to human greed and indulgence, which characterize modern man. With its long ascetic tradition and liturgical ethos, the Orthodox Church can contribute greatly to confronting the ecological crisis that now threatens our planet. In full recognition of this, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has -- already since 1989, as the first church to do so in the Christian world -- issued an Encyclical signed by our venerable predecessor Patriarch Dimitrios, establishing September 1st of each year as a day of prayer for the protection of the natural environment. It has also, since that time, promoted a series of activities, such as the organization of international symposia involving scholars and religious leaders in order to ascertain ways of protecting God's creation from imminent destruction. We invite and appeal to all sister Orthodox Churches to support this endeavor of our Patriarchate; after all, our obligation and responsibility before God and History is something we all bear in common.
8. And now, beloved brothers in the Lord, let us turn our thought to the internal affairs of our Orthodox Church, whose leadership the Lord's mercy has entrusted to us. We have been deigned by our Lord to belong to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, whose faithful continuation and expression in History is our Holy Orthodox Church. We have received and preserve the true faith, as the holy Fathers have transmitted it to us through the Ecumenical Councils of the one undivided Church. We commune of the same Body and Blood of our Lord in the Divine Eucharist, and we participate in the same Sacred Mysteries. We basically keep the same liturgical typikon and are governed by the same Sacred Canons. All these safeguard our unity, granting us fundamental presuppositions for witness in the modern world.
Despite this, we must admit in all honesty that sometimes we present an image of incomplete unity, as if we were not one Church, but rather a confederation or a federation of churches. This is largely a result of the institution of autocephaly, which characterizes the structure of the Orthodox Church. As is known, this institution dates back to the early Church, when the so-called "Pentarchy" of the ancient Apostolic Sees and Churches -- namely, of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem -- was still valid. The communion or "symphony" of these Sees expressed the unity of the universal Church in the oikoumene. This Pentarchy was severed after the tragic schism of 1054AD between Rome and Constantinople originally, and afterward between Rome and the other Patriarchates. To the four Orthodox Patriarchates that remained after the Schism, from the middle of the second millennium to this day, other autocephalous Churches were added until we have the prevailing organization of the Orthodox Church throughout the world today.
Yet, while the original system of Pentarchy emanated from respect for the apostolicity and particularity of the traditions of these ancient Patriarchates, the autocephaly of later Churches grew out of respect for the cultural identity of nations. Moreover, the overall system of autocephaly was encroached in recent years, through secular influences, by the spirit of ethnophyletism or, still worse, of state nationalism, to the degree that the basis for autocephaly now became the local secular nation, whose boundaries, as we all know, do not remain stable but depend on historical circumstance. So we have reached the perception that Orthodoxy comprises a federation of national Churches, frequently attributing priority to national interests in their relationship with one another. In light of this image, which somewhat recalls the situation in Corinth when the first letter to the Corinthians was written, the Apostle Paul would ask: has Orthodoxy been divided? This question is also posed by many observers of Orthodox affairs in our times.
Of course, the response commonly proffered to this question is that, despite administrational division, Orthodoxy remains united in faith, the Sacraments, etc. But is this sufficient? When before non-Orthodox we sometimes appear divided in theological dialogues and elsewhere; when we are unable to proceed to the realization of the long-heralded Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church; when we lack a unified voice on contemporary issues and, instead, convoke bilateral dialogues with non-Orthodox on these issues; when we fail to constitute a single Orthodox Church in the so-called Diaspora in accordance with the ecclesiological and canonical principles of our Church; how can we avoid the image of division in Orthodoxy, especially on the basis of non-theological, secular criteria?
We need, then, greater unity in order to appear to those outside not as a federation of Churches but as one unified Church. Through the centuries, and especially after the Schism, when the Church of Rome ceased to be in communion with the Orthodox, this Throne was called -- according to canonical order -- to serve the unity of the Orthodox Church as its first Throne. And it fulfilled this responsibility through the ages by convoking an entire series of Panorthodox Councils on crucial ecclesiastical matters, always prepared, whenever duly approached, to render its assistance and support to troubled Orthodox Churches. In this way, a canonical order was created and, accordingly, the coordinating role of this Patriarchate guaranteed the unity of the Orthodox Church, without in the least damaging or diminishing the independence of the local autocephalous Churches by any interference in their internal affairs. This, in any case, is the healthy significance of the institution of autocephaly: while it assures the self-governance of each Church with regard to its internal life and organization, on matters affecting the entire Orthodox Church and its relations with those outside, each autocephalous Church does not act alone but in coordination with the rest of the Orthodox Churches. If this coordination either disappears or diminishes, then autocephaly becomes "autocephalism" (or radical independence), namely a factor of division rather than unity for the Orthodox Church.
Therefore, dearly beloved brothers in the Lord, we are called to contribute in every possible way to the unity of the Orthodox Church, transcending every temptation of regionalism or nationalism so that we may act as a unified Church, as one canonically structured body. We do not, as during Byzantine times, have at our disposal a state factor that guaranteed -- and sometimes even imposed -- our unity. Nor does our ecclesiology permit any centralized authority that is able to impose unity from above. Our unity depends on our conscience. The sense of need and duty that we constitute a single canonical structure and body, one Church, is sufficient to guarantee our unity, without any external intervention.
In consideration of all these things, and with a sense of our Church's obligation before God and History in an age when the unified witness of Orthodoxy is judged crucial and expected by all, we invite and call on you fraternally that, with the approval also of our respective Holy Synods, we may proceed to the following necessary actions:
1. To advance the preparations for the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, already commenced through Panorthodox Pre-Conciliar Consultations.
2. To activate the 1993 agreement of the Inter-Orthodox Consultation of the Holy and Great Council in order to resolve the pending matter of the Orthodox Diaspora.
3. To strengthen by means of further theological support the decisions taken on a Panorthodox level regarding participation of the Orthodox Church in theological dialogues with non-Orthodox.
4. To proclaim once again the vivid interest of the entire Orthodox Church for the crucial and urgent matter of protecting the natural environment, supporting on a Panorthodox level the relative initiative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
5. To establish an Inter-Orthodox Committee for the study of matters arising today in the field of bioethics, on which the world justifiably also awaits the Orthodox position.
We deemed it proper to offer these proposals for your consideration in our desire that this Synaxis, after exchanging more general thoughts, may also conclude with several specific decisions, whereby the unity of our Church will be expressed in deed. After all, this is what public opinion expects of us, both among our own flocks but also in the world around us. You are certainly able to add other proposals to these, should this be deemed necessary, Your Beatitudes and most eminent brothers.
In closing our address, we express once again glory to our all-good God, for vouchsafing that we convene in the same place within the context of the Pauline celebrations, and pray that our brotherly fellowship in the Lord during these days will unite us still more in the bond of love."Now to Him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine; to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus."
(Eph. 3.20-1) Amen.
Story taken from http://www.archons.org/
(Dallas, TX) His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri and Bishop-elect Jonah will travel to New York today for the fall meeting of the Holy Synod of Bishops. In addition to being invited to participate in the Synod meetings, Bishop-elect Jonah will visit St. Vladimir’s Seminary and meet with DOS students and other students interested in knowing more about the Diocese of the South.
The agenda for the Holy Synod meeting is extensive in preparation for the upcoming All-American Council in November. As Locum tenens, Archbishop Dmitri will chair the meeting. The Synod will hear reports from chancery staff as well as consider forward looking financial matters given the real possibility of a significant cut in the OCA annual assessment in 2009.
The Synod is also expected to review recent decisions of the Metropolitan Council which may have been enacted in an irregular manner.
The Synod will also meet in closed session to discuss other matters including vacant sees.
His Eminence asks for your prayers as the Holy Synod gathers.
The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America meeting at their fall session has elected His Grace, the Right Reverend Alejo as the ruling Bishop of Mexico City and the Exarchate of Mexico. As a ruling bishop, His Grace will now be a voting member of the Holy Synod.
His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri who was the Exarch of Mexico strongly supported the elevation of Bishop Alejo to that of a ruling hierarch. More news on this story can be found on the OCA website
(Dallas, TX) The Diocese of the South is making final preparations for the consecration of Bishop-elect Jonah (Paffhausen) this coming Friday and Saturday here at St. Seraphim Cathedral. Orthodox clergy and faithful from across North America will descend on Dallas starting this week and according to DOS chancery staff handling the consecration arrangements over 350 people will be in attendance for the historic event in the life of the Diocese.
On Friday, October 31, the Great Vespers with the Rite of Election will take place. During this service the bishop-elect will profess his faith in Christ and the teachings of the Orthodox Church. Archpriest Alexander Garklavs, Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America will read the decree of the Holy Synod of Bishops electing Archimandrite Jonah as bishop-elect of Fort Worth and Auxiliary to His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri and the Diocese of the South on Friday evening.
On Saturday, November 1, the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy led by His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri and concelebrated by His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia, His Grace, Bishop Alejo of Mexico City and His Grace, Bishop Benjamin of San Francisco will perform the Laying on of Hands making the Archimandrite Jonah a bishop of the Orthodox Church. During the consecration Liturgy on Saturday, the newly consecrated Bishop Jonah will ordain the Riasophor-monk Philip Majkrazak to the Diaconate and Deacon John Hays to the Priesthood.
The consecration weekend festivities will include a wine and cheese reception after the Friday after Vespers and a Texas-style BBQ on Saturday after the Divine Liturgy. The weekend will conclude on Sunday, November 2 with the celebration of His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri’s 85th birthday after the Divine Liturgy and a Texas-size Pot-luck and an afternoon of fellowship.
The St Seraphim Cathedral address in Dallas is 4208 Wycliff Avenue, 75219.
(Dallas, TX) With the blessing of Archbishop Dmitri, it is the wish of Bishop-elect Jonah that all priests who will be attending his consecration be invited to vest and serve at the consecration.
Due to the limited size of the Cathedral altar, only certain priests will be able to be in the altar area with remaining clergy positioned in rows at the base of the ambo.
All those desirous of serving at the Saturday Divine Liturgy are asked to wear white or white/gold vestments and be at the Cathedral by 8:30AM.
Again, due to altar size limitations, only invited deacons will be able to serve.
October 31, 2008
Your Eminence, beloved Vladyka Dmitri, Vladyka Tikhon, Maestro Don Alejo, Vladyka Benjamin, beloved friends and brethren in Christ,
I am profoundly humbled to be elected as a bishop, and by the confidence placed in me by you and the other holy hierarchs of the Orthodox Church in America. I am immensely grateful to God, and to you all, to be considered for such a ministry, and pray that I may faithfully fulfill the trust placed in me for the good of the whole Church, and that I might hope to hear the Lord’s word on the Last Day, “well done, good and faithful servant.”
It is hard to begin to express the gratitude that I have for all the people who have affected my life: first and foremost, my parents and family, who while often not understanding the path to which I have been called, showed their patience, unconditional love and support all along my spiritual pilgrimage.
My gratitude to God is also for the many spiritual guides, both living and departed, who have imparted to me their vision of Christ and the Church, of ministry and service. Among the those who have gone on before us are Protopresbyters Alexander Schmemann and John Meyendorff, of blessed memory, who shaped my intellectual formation in the Faith, and imparted their vision of the Church, albeit at a time when I was too immature to comprehend it; and the Monastic fathers, who inspired in me the desire for the “Way of Perfection,” Bishop Mark of Ladoga, and Archimandrite Dimitry of Santa Rosa, of blessed memory, monks of Valaam; Bishop Basil (Rodzianko) and Fr Anastassy. May their memory be eternal!
Among the living, many who have so deeply affected my life and ministry, gave me guidance, inspiration and encouragement, were patient and sometimes strict in discipline, are here today: Fr Ramon Merlos, Fr Alexander Federoff, Fr Basil Rhodes, Fr Ian MacKinnon, and many others with whom I worked in my life and service in the Diocese of the West. Especially, I am grateful for my spiritual father, Bishop Pankratiy, Abbot of the Valaam Monastery of the Transfiguration, and his spiritual father to whom he led me, the great Staretz Archimandrite Kyrill of the Trinity-St Sergius Lavra; as well as Elders Raphael, Nahum, Ephraim, Dionysios, and Dunstan, and others who guided me in the monastic life, and foretold to me this cross. In particular I give thanks to God for my brothers and co-strugglers from the Monastery of St John, who by their patient endurance as I grew into the ministry of abbot and spiritual father, supported me and our life together as we strove to build a monastic brotherhood for the Glory of God. Others who encouraged me so strongly in the monastic life are my brother in Christ Igumen Gerasim of St Herman Monastery, and Abbess Victoria of St Barbara’s, Mother Barbara, and Abbess Susanna and the sisters of the Skete of Our Lady of Kazan. I thank God for all the multitude of friends, spiritual children, and brothers and sisters in Christ, and rely on their prayers, as such a ministry as that to which I am being called can only be founded on the prayers of all the faithful united together in the bond of love by the Spirit of Peace.
“For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise and God has chosen the weak things of this world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh might glory in his Presence” (1Cor 1:26-29).
In the words of my spiritual father, Bishop Pankratiy of Valaam, “the episcopate is the ultimate fulfillment not only of the priesthood but also of monasticism.” The episcopacy is certainly the fullness of the priesthood, and a bishop is a High Priest, archiereus, by definition. Thus his calling is to fulfill the image of the Great High Priest, our Lord Jesus Christ, in his own life and ministry; to become transparent to Christ for the sake of the people; to actualize His Presence in the midst of the people sacramentally—the great mystery of God with us. Yet the episcopacy is also the fulfillment of monasticism, as the ultimate ascetic task of taking on the Cross of Christ. To be a monk means to completely cut off the thoughts and attachments that keep us in bondage to the world, so that we may live according to the will of God alone. It is the quest to acquire sobriety and humility, dispassion and discernment, patience and longsuffering, and most of all, unconditional love for our neighbor and for the whole world. As monasticism is the sacrament of obedience, the episcopacy is the ultimate obedience, which can only be accepted as an act of obedience. It demands complete surrender to God and the death of self-will. It demands true holiness, nothing other than synergy with the Divine Will—the very definition of obedience.
To fulfill what it means to be a bishop means nothing other than to “attain to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” How far I am from this! And yet, it is the Holy Spirit who fulfills what is lacking, and heals that which is infirm.
The episcopacy presents the ultimate ascetic and spiritual challenge: the challenge of complete conversion to Christ, the transformation of mind and heart by repentance, in order that I may say with St Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live in the Son of God” (Gal 2:20). To die to self, to empty oneself, to humble oneself even unto death—this is the calling of the bishop, because his calling is to manifest Christ wholly and completely, by identifying with Him and actualizing His Presence. Though there are many tasks and jobs associated with the episcopacy, administrative, pastoral and liturgical, it is not so much about the “job” as it is about the person; and that person is not me, but rather, Christ.
If the episcopacy is about me, manifesting my talents, abilities, and ego, then there is nothing sacramental about it; or rather, that which is sacramental and holy is defiled by my ego, my self-opinion and self-will. The Church does not need me; the Church only needs Christ. If by my self-emptying I can become a vessel of Christ, of His Will and His Grace, His Presence and His activity, so that we together as Church can fulfill His Will by His Grace, and glory in His Presence, then His ministry will be fulfilled in me.
The bishop is not only high priest, but hierarch: the source of sanctification, as all ministries are established by the ordination of the bishop. This defines the nature of Episcopal leadership. Leadership in the Orthodox Church is not about organizational ability, political acumen and all the interpersonal tools of communication. These are important; but they are not of the essence. Real leadership in the Church is first and foremost spiritual leadership: attaining, imparting and actualizing the Vision and experience of the Kingdom. Only by first attaining this vision ourselves, the divine theoria of the Kingdom of God, can we attain the discernment necessary to “rightly divide the word of Truth,” to rightly distribute the gifts of grace, and to discern those worthy to bear such ministries, and have the ability to fulfill them. Only by ascetic self-denial can we exercise true discernment—the vision of the will of God, and how to fulfill it—free from any selfish or self-serving agendas. Then our leadership will be true: we will able to lead people to Christ and the Kingdom, and to manifest the Kingdom in our midst, by constantly renewing that vision of the Kingdom, through our prayer and worship and through our works of charity and outreach.
Real Episcopal leadership must be manifest in action: the care for the clergy and faithful, most especially the poor and needy, those trapped in the poverty of loneliness and isolation. The bishop is called to establish churches and monasteries, not simply as liturgical centers, but as the means by which the Church reaches out to the world, to spread the Gospel of repentance and forgiveness, and thus to heal and reconcile those broken and fallen, lonely and despairing, to God. The bishop is called to preach and teach, to evangelize and bring Christ to the world, and to bring those outside the Church to Christ. The bishop is called to form men and women for the service of the Church, as clergy, monastics, lay leaders, and all as disciples. He must lead them in the spiritual quest for the virtues through self-denial, by his life first, and then by his teaching. He must discern the gifts God has given each person, and equip and bless each person to fulfill their ministry, thereby fulfilling their personhood in the communion of persons, which is the Body of Christ.
The bishop cannot do any of this in isolation; the episcopate exists only in relation to the whole community. The bishop’s ultimate ministry is to bring together the whole community of the Church, so that with a common vision and common activity the whole body works together in synergy with the will of God. Thus, the bishop recapitulates the whole church entrusted to him, not only in a mystical sacramental sense, but in common action, held together in the unity of the Spirit and the bond of Peace.
Pray for me that I may surrender ever more completely to the will of God, abandon myself to His Providence, and die to all the things of this world, so that I might be a worthy tool and vessel, that I may have a clear vision of God’s will and be able to exercise true Episcopal leadership in discernment and action, that the Kingdom may shine forth and God may be glorified.
Archimandrite Jonah (Paffhausen), Bishop-Elect of Fort Worth
CONSECRATION PHOTOS(Dallas, TX)
Thirty years after the establishment of the Diocese of the South, her first and only bishop, His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri with Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia, Bishop Benjamin of San Francisco and Bishop Alejo of Mexico City consecrated Bishop-elect Jonah (Paffhausen) by the Rite of Election and the Rite of the Laying on of Hands to the episcopacy of the Orthodox Church. His Grace, Bishop Jonah of Fort Worth surrounded by friends and family from around the world accepted the call of the Church to the office of Bishop with humility.
On Friday, October 31, Bishop Jonah accepted the election of the Holy Synod of Bishops to be the Bishop of Fort Worth (text of his acceptance speech above)
. A Service of Thanksgiving was then offered followed by the Great Vespers.
On Saturday, November 1, Bishop Jonah made the three-fold profession of the Orthodox Faith before the assembled Church then was led to ordination by the laying on of hand. At the Little Entrance, the Archimandrite Melitios (Webber), Abbot of St John the Wonderworker Monastery in Manton, CA and Archpriest Alexander Garklavs, Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America presented Bishop-elect Jonah to the Bishops and then to Church. During the consecration Liturgy the newly consecrated bishop ordained Deacon John Hays to the Holy Priesthood and the Riasophor-monk Philip Majkrazak to the Diaconate.
Archpriest John Behr, Dean of St Vladimir’s Seminary represented SVS from which Bishop Jonah graduated. Over 50 monastics, priests and deacons from inside and outside the OCA served at the consecration Divine Liturgy.
On Sunday, November 2, Bishop Jonah celebrated his first Hierarchical Divine Liturgy which also coincided with the 85th birthday of His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri. A full day of food and fellowship followed the Liturgy with many of those who travelled for the consecration staying for Sunday’s celebration.
Bishop Jonah now assumes his duties as Auxiliary bishop to Archbishop Dmitri with the additional title of Chancellor of the Diocese of the South. The DOS stretches from New Mexico in the West to Norfolk, VA in the East, and Miami, FL to the Southeast. Bishop Jonah will make his first Archpastoral visit this coming Sunday to St Maximus the Confessor Mission in Denton, TX before he and Archbishop Dmitri leave for Pittsburgh, PA. for the 15th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America.
Additional photos will be posted tomorrow. You may also view photos on the OCA website.
His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri, Locum tenens of the Metropolitan's See, addressed the first plenary session of the 15th All-American Council here tonight.
To listen to the address, click here.
The 15th All-American Council opened last night here with a Service of Prayer for the opening of a Sacred Council. His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri led the service before offering his Opening Address (can be heard here.
Over 700 delegates and observers are registered at the Council which will elect a new Metropolitan tomorrow.
The second day of the Council began with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy with His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri, His Grace, Bishop Tikhon and His Grace Bishop Alejo concelebrating.
On a sad note, Archpriest Stephen Karaffa of Sts Peter and Paul Church, Burr Ridge, IL
after receiving Holy Communion died shortly after the end of the Liturgy. May his Memory be Eternal!
The rest of Tuesday is being spent reviewing the work of the Special Investigative Committee, an overview of the work of the Committee, Recommendations to the Church by the SIC members and closing with a presentation by the staff of the Office of the Metropolitan.
Resolutions will be addressed throughout the Council including the setting of the OCA Assessment for the next three years.
(Pittsburgh, PA) The third day of the 15th All-American Council opened this morning with Bishop Jonah celebrating the Divine Liturgy. The work of the Council this morning is the election of a new Metropolitan for the Orthodox Church in America.
By the Grace of God the Holy Synod of the has elected His Grace, Jonah, Bishop of Fort Worth as Metropolitan of All America and Canada.
Axios! Axios! Axios!
) In a day that surely was not anticipated, the Grace of the Holy Spirit led the delegates gathered here to a new chapter in the life of our Orthodox Church in America. His Grace, Jonah, Bishop of Fort Worth was elected by unanimous vote of the Holy Synod of Bishops as Metropolitan of All America and Canada. The election was met with cheers of Axios
by the members of the Council.
After two ballots, Bishop Jonah and Archbishop Job of Chicago received the two highest total of votes. By Statute, the Holy Synod members then retired to choose who would be the First Hierarch of the OCA. This vote only need be a simple majority. Sources have confirmed that in a move that united the Holy Synod, His Eminence, Archbishop Job asked his brothers to not consider him as a candidate thus making Bishop Jonah the unanimous choice of the Synod.
This spirit of unity could be felt by the assembled Church when the new Metropolitan was led out of the altar by Archbishop Nathaniel and Archbishop Job to be vested in his blue mantia and white klobuk, signifying the office of Metropolitan.
Delegates cheered and tears fell freely from many who greeted the new Metropolitan after his election. Although stunned members of the Diocese of the South also cheered, the election was bittersweet since the clergy and faithful of the DOS looked to Jonah as a most able auxiliary to our beloved Archbishop Dmitri who recently celebrated his 85th birthday.
In his remarks to the new Metropolitan and the gathered Council, Archbishop Dmitri confessed with his wry sense of humor, that he was “pleasantly annoyed” with Jonah’s election! “It was God’s will that our new Metropolitan came to his duties through our diocese. We know that the entire Church will embrace him with the same love and support that we gave him as my Auxiliary.” In a private meeting on Wednesday evening, Archbishop Dmitri and Metropolitan Jonah discussed how the new Metropolitan can continue to be of service to His Eminence in the days and weeks ahead as the DOS begins anew to find an auxiliary for Archbishop Dmitri and maintain the necessary work of the office of the Archbishop.
Metropolitan Jonah will return to Dallas on Friday afternoon and be at St. Seraphim Cathedral to celebrate the Divine Liturgy this Sunday. He is scheduled to return to New York on Monday to begin the transition process with the Syosset chancery staff. His formal installation as Metropolitan will take place on December 28 in Washington, D.C. at St. Nicholas Cathedral.
To view a video of today's historic events, click here.
Photo Courtesy of Cameron Thorp
Photo Courtesy of Cameron Thorp
WHAT A DIFFERENCE a week makes in discovering God's will for his beloved Orthodox Church in America. With every human expectation that the Lord had sent Bishop Jonah to the DOS to be the auxiliary bishop for His Eminence, it is now clear that the Lord had another path for Bishop Jonah. And so, St Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas will greet him this weekend the new First Hierarch of the Orthodox Church in America. Metropolitan Jonah will now begin the monumental task of transitioning from his brief stay here in Dallas to his new duties in New York.
His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri captured the feelings of so many of us in the DOS when he greeted the new Metropolitan by saying "I am pleasantly annoyed" with the election of Bishop Jonah to the dignity of Metropolitan. The news of his election was greeted with cheers by the assembled Church meeting in Council in Pittsburgh. It was as if a curtain was lifted from over our Church and a breath of hope and reconciliation descended into the hearts of delegates. Here in Dallas, for many, tears not cheers greeted the news of Jonah's election.
Although we have only had a few hours to begin to process the historic events of the last 24 hours, already the reality is becoming humbly apparent; our loss is the gain for the entire Church. So the DOS will begin anew in seeking God's will in discerning who our next Auxiliary bishop will be. We must resist every temptation to be cynical or harbor feelings of resentment with the departure of Metropolitan Jonah while at the same time opening our hearts in freely and lovingly embracing who the Lord will send us as our "next new" Auxiliary bishop for His Eminence. Mindful that Archbishop Dmitri still needs a bishop to help him, we, his faithful diocesan flock, will begin anew to seek that help for His Eminence to the Glory of God and the spreading of the Gospel in the building up of the Diocese of the South.
As DOS chancery staff, we get back to work on Friday and make ready to welcome our beloved Metropolitan Jonah on his first Primatial visit to Dallas this Sunday at St. Seraphim Cathedral.
And, yes, we will greet him with AXIOS, AXIOS, AXIOS and most likely with tears too!
As his first act as the new First Hierarch of the Orthodox Church in America, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah awarded His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri the highest award that the Orthodox Church in America conveys to its most dedicated members - The Order of St. Innocent, Gold Award on November 13 at the conclusion of the first primatial Divine Liturgy of the new Metropolitan.
The Order of St Innocent has three award categories, Bronze, Silver, and Gold. The Gold award is reserved for other heads of Orthodox Churches and for the most dedicated and influential members of the Church. His Beatitude in bestowing the award thanked His Eminence for his lifetime of dedicated service to the Orthodox Church in America and especially his visionary work in the establishment and leadership of the DOS over the past 30 years.
In his 85th year of life, and approaching his 40th year as a Hierarch, Archbishop Dmitri continues to serve and write. His recently published Commentary on Romans (published by SVS Press)
is the latest in a series of books written by His Eminence. Currently two additional commentaries are being finalized on the Epistle of James and the Gospel of John.
This Sunday, at St. Seraphim Cathedral here, His Eminence will greet the new Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church in America where he will serve with His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah.
(Syosset, NY) The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America elected His Grace, The Right Reverend, Benjamin, as ruling hierarch for the Diocese of the West here yesterday. Bishop Benjamin was the auxiliary Bishop for the DOW under now retired Bishop Tikhon. For more coverage, go to the DOW website. Axios!
Icon Bridges to Mexico
PHARR: Last year, after a 14 hour bus ride from the Texas border to Mexico City, Fr. Antonio Perdomo and his two teenaged daughters delivered three large boxes of icons to Orthodox Church in America Bishop ALEJO and Archbishop DMITRI during Vladika DMITRI’s annual Theophany season visit to Mexico. The Hierarchs and Clergy in Mexico received these gifts with great joy and thanksgiving. This year, the Perdomos hope to continue the tradition and to do even more.
“This is something that we, as Orthodox Parishes in the US can easily do to act as a bridge of support for the Orthodox Church in Mexico,” said Fr. Perdomo.
The Orthodox Churches and Missions in Mexico are challenged in several ways. First, it is difficult to access traditional Orthodox icons and liturgical supplies in Mexico, which is a largely Roman Catholic nation. Second, most mission parishes in Mexico live with financially demanding situations. Although more men are being trained, the nation as a whole has with few Orthodox clergy, and many of these must work full-time to support their missions because of the economically-challenged situation of Parishioners.
“Two years ago, when my sister and I first came with our dad to visit the Orthodox Churches in Mexico,” said University of Texas, Pan American student, Analucia Perdomo, “one of the first things my sister and I noticed was the lack of Orthodox icons in the missions we saw. It is very hard for them to find icons down there. It made us want to go home and do what we could to help out.”
After that 2005 Theophany visit to Mexico City, Fr. Antonio and his family decided to try to get the word out and encourage others here in the states to share from their abundance. Matushka Elizabeth added, “Most parishes in the States have a closet or shelf somewhere storing older acolyte robes or unused vestments. Often, when a church is remodeled, older icons are also just put into storage. Rather than letting these things gather dust here, it’s much better to share these holy things with mission churches which very much need them.”
In addition to larger sized, traditional Orthodox icons for use in Churches, various missions in Mexico need vestments, acolyte robes, altar coverings, censors and any other objects used in liturgical services. Since shipping and delivery to Mexico is both very expensive and extremely unreliable, Fr. Perdomo, rector of St. George’s Orthodox Church on the Mexican border in Pharr, Texas, continues to receive and hand deliver icons and liturgical supplies directly to Bishop ALEJO at the Cathedral in Mexico City.
“If every Parish in the US decided to give the Church in Mexico a Christmas present, what a wonderful thing that would be! And, it wouldn’t take much to do it, either.” Matushka continued, “If each Parish or Women’s Group or Church School class decided to raise money and buy just one, nice sized icon for the Church in Mexico – it would be such a blessing and would strengthen our fellowship with the Church there.”
“Or, if everyone just cleaned out their Parish closets and shared what they have stored in there,” continued Ms. Perdomo, “that would likely benefit every Orthodox mission in the entire nation of Mexico.”
To read more or to see photos from last year’s “Icon Bridges to Mexico” deliveries, please see: http://www.stgeorgepantry.org/iconbridges.html Please ship icons and liturgical items to: Fr. Antonio Perdomo, 520 W. Rosemary Avenue, Pharr, TX 78577. For more information, call 956-781-2388 or email Father at firstname.lastname@example.org
SAVE THE DATE
Second Annual Winter Youth/Young Adult Service Retreat
PHARR: Last winter, together we tasted the true “sabor” of “¡Señor tempiedad!” and how to live as “una familia en Cristo.” Somewhere stirred within our daily prayers, we loaded food boxes, sorted warm coats and blankets for South Texas borderland families, dug a garden in the still-hot winter sun at a girl’s orphanage in Mexico, ate tamales and posole, splashed in warm Gulf waters and played invigorating games of beach soccer.
In the same “Orthodox Rio Bridges” spirit (or in Spanish, Puente del Rio Ortodoxo), the 2nd Annual Winter Youth/Young Adult Service Retreat promises to be an even more enriching experience for attendees. Sponsored by “PRO-ORB” and St. George’s Orthodox Church in Pharr, Texas, the event will begin on Tuesday evening, December 26 th continuing until Saturday morning, December 30th when we will end with a Spanish-language Divine Liturgy. Guests who do not need to leave immediately are very welcome to stay throughout the weekend.
Our spiritual focus presenter this year will be Hieromonk John (Anderson) from St. Michael’s Skete in Cañones, New Mexico. In addition to spiritual topic sessions and daily liturgical services, some in Spanish, the foundational retreat focus rests on serving others in the name of Christ. To this end, we will again be assisting at St. George’s Food Pantry, which now serves over 100 families each time it opens. In addition, attendees will deliver Christmas stockings, toiletries and food items, as well as spend the day working at the Casa Ampara girl’s orphanage just across the border in Reynosa, Mexico.
Last year, participants came from both the US and Mexico. This year, we hope to encourage others from Mexico – maybe even Canada? – to join us in this inspiring event. There will be plenty of opportunity for Orthodox fellowship, including a trip to the beach at South Padre Island. Yes, last winter, we actually went swimming in late December!
Orthodox teens, college students and young adults, as well as adult chaperones and/or parents, are invited to participate. The cost will be $175.00 per attendee. Registration deadline is December 16th. Contact us by email, phone or look online for registration forms at: http://www.stgeorgepantry.org/winteryouthretreat.html
To learn more, call Fr. Antonio Perdomo at 956-781-2388 or email him at email@example.com. See photos and write ups from last year’s event online at: http://www.stgeorgepantry.org/winteretreatphotos.html and
Read the information on this page. But also remember to towards the top of this page for links to each registration form and other information related to the retreat. Please do pass this information on to any who you think might be interested. And, feel free to let us know if you have additional questions, concerns or ideas.
October 14, 2006
(Clinton, MS) Archpriest Paul Yerger, rector of Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church, surrounded by local and guest clergy and faithful celebrated its final service in their old church building on October 14. The final service remembered the departed of the parish community who worshiped the Lord in the old church, which the community prayed in since 1980. Prayers of Thanksgiving were then offered for all the blessings the Lord gave to the faithful of Holy Resurrection. With the conclusion of the final service, the clergy and faithful processed through the streets of Clinton to the new Holy Resurrection church. The first Divine Liturgy was celebrated on Sunday, October 15.
May God bless your work for the Lord in your new facilities!
With the assistance of Vladimir Grigorenko, (St Seraphim Cathedral iconographer) the remarks of Metropolitan Jonah at the 15th All American Council have been translated into Russian. The remarks are available on the St Philaret Orthodox Institutute website. His Beatitude's remarks can be read in Russian by clicking here.
Yesterday was to be the first time that Bishop Jonah of Fort Worth was to serve in his See. Yesterday was to be the day that St Barbara Church in Fort Worth would welcome the new Auxiliary bishop to His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri. But yesterday did not go as planned.
Nothing has gone according to plan, well at least the plan of man, in the past two weeks. Barely getting settled into his new duties as Chancellor of the DOS and Auxiliary to Archbishop Dmitri, Bishop Jonah and Archbishop Dmitri left Dallas a week ago Sunday to participate in the 15th All American Council in Pittsburgh, PA. The “baby bishop” as Bishop Jonah refers to himself, went to Pittsburgh amidst a growing sense that this All American Council would be historic, but in which way historic truly “up in the air.”
Not until Tuesday evening did the Lord begin to reveal to His people what was His will. The “baby bishop” rose to speak at a critical moment in the Council. There was a growing sense that a further division in the Church was about to break out unless something dramatic happened. When Bishop Jonah began to speak only the Lord knew for sure what would next happen. What did happen was as much a descent of the Holy Spirit on the Church as it was on the Day of Pentecost. The newest and youngest bishop spoke the truth in love not only about the recent history of our OCA, our disappointments, our sin, but about our own spiritual response to that history and what we must do if we personally and as Church are to emerge from that history and move forward.
From that moment it became clear to all gathered in Pittsburgh that Bishop Jonah would be a serious choice to be the First Hierarch of the Orthodox Church in America; and on Wednesday, after Bishop Jonah celebrated the Divine Liturgy and preached, the Church elected him Metropolitan of All America and Canada.
Thus, on Sunday, November 16, Bishop Jonah returned to Dallas as His Beatitude, The Most Blessed Jonah, Archbishop of Washington and New York, Metropolitan of All America and Canada. Metropolitan Jonah was welcomed with the same love and sincere respect he earned (in a very short time) as Chancellor and Auxiliary Bishop to His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri.
An emerging theme is being presented in the sermons and addresses of Metropolitan Jonah. The theme is our on going spiritual formation - the daily struggle to live a genuinely Christian life- to be informed by Christ in every aspect of our life and to "mercilessly persecute hypocrisy in ourselves."
That theme was again evident on Sunday here in Dallas when His Beatitude preached on the Good Samaritan and on the second Gospel dealing with the call of St. Matthew. Yesterday's sermon is available here.
Typically, His Eminence was warm and welcoming to His Beatitude and displayed the "pride" of a proud "papa" in serving with his former Auxiliary.
His Beatitude flew to New York early this morning where he will meet with his Syosset chancery staff and Bishop Mecurius, the representative of the Russian Orthodox Church here in the USA. Later in the week he will travel to St. Tikhon's Monastery for the eve of the Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos and then on to St. Vladimir's Seminary for the Feast and the SVS Board of Trustees meeting next Friday and Saturday. His Beatitude is scheduled to serve the Divine Liturgy next Sunday in Syosset at St Sergius Chapel before returning to Dallas next Sunday night. With the blessing of His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri, His Beatitude will serve daily Liturgy at St Seraphim Cathedral a week from Tuesday (November 25) at 7:00AM.
Rod Dreher is a member of St Seraphim Cathedral here and a columnist for the Dallas Morning News. This article was written for tomorrow's Sunday edition and is available online (link below.)
Rod Dreher: What it means to lead
01:28 PM CST on Friday, November 21, 2008
Three months ago, Father Jonah Paffhausen was living quietly as the abbot of an Eastern Orthodox monastery in Northern California. Three weeks ago, he was the newly consecrated Bishop Jonah of Fort Worth. On Nov. 12, he was elected as Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church in America.
This is like a priest going from being a relatively obscure country abbot to Archbishop of Canterbury in the time it takes the leaves to change color. It just doesn't happen. But it did, and if you ask laymen and clergy who were voting at the church council, they'll tell you it was the Holy Spirit at work.
Maybe so. But a more secular explanation would be The Speech. Pay attention, because in an era when people have lost their faith in many institutions, there's a lesson in leadership here for us all.
The night before the vote, Bishop Jonah stood before the hundreds gathered in Pittsburgh and talked about the terrible financial scandal that has rocked the OCA hierarchy and nearly shattered the church. He spoke calmly but what he said was revolutionary: "Authority is responsibility. Authority is accountability. It is not power."
Repeating findings of a special investigation, the bishop admitted to the council that the previous administrations of the church were "corrupt" and had "raped" the church, thinking that, as leaders, they were answerable to no one.=2 0When those granted power use it only to serve themselves, "it all breaks down."
People watch what you do and how you do it, not what you say. Abuse authority, and they may obey your lawful orders but will not respect you. Having lost authority, you soon lose power – and the institution crumbles.
And why not? If the church exists only to perpetuate itself, and not for a higher mission, what good is it? The mission is not only the responsibility of leaders. Each member of the church has authority over his or her sphere and must exercise it with care.
" How do we re-establish trust?" Bishop Jonah asked. "There's only one way. It's to choose to love. There are no organizational methods, no kinds of business practices we can invoke, no corporate ideologies, none of that."
To love, he explained, is to forgive. To let the past be truly past, and to choose to work with renewed leadership for the sake of the mission.
And then, with characteristic humility, the bishop ended: "Please forgive me."
The council erupted with wild applause. The next day, they made the soft-spoken monk primate of the entire North American church. With a single speech, an ecclesial body that had one foot in the grave returned to life.
What do a bishop's words to his agonized church (full disclosure: it's my church) have to do with everybody else?
An excruciating economic ordeal is descending when we are ill-suited to deal with it. In June, Gallup's annual survey of Americans' trust showed courts, churches, schools, Congress, big business all taking huge losses. Only the military escaped harsh judgment.
This, by the way, was before the economy nose-dived and the public began to grasp how lies, greed and recklessness a mong elites on Wall Street and in Washington got us here.
America needs good men and women to lead us through tough times ahead. Here's what they can learn from Bishop Jonah. That power without authority is pretense. That a debased power-holder may command, but he cannot lead. That authority, once lost, cannot be regained by words absent deeds. That words of truth, as opposed to face-saving lies, must be spoken as a prelude to renewal.
Moreover, leaders must understand that they and their institutions serve a mission more important than anyone in it. Mistrustful followers must know that holding tight to cynicism is an abdication of their responsibility to care for the common cause. At every level, only active love – that is, selfless stewardship – can restore what has been broken.
How many companies in crisis today could turn themselves around with this kind of leadership ethic? How many failing institutions greased the slippery downhill slope because its leadership class mistook its own narrow interests for the institution's? How many newly elected political leaders coming into office soon can magnify their effectiveness by taking the monk's counsel?
"Authority is responsibility. Authority is accountability. It is not power." A leader who takes that principle to heart will not likely have to ask for forgiveness. Then again, a leader who takes that principle to heart always will look for the opportunity to do so.
If he stoops in true humility, he will conquer – and will deserve to.
Rod Dreher is a Dallas Morning News editorial columnist. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.Article link
St. George the Greatmartyr Church here is sponsoring the 4th Annual Winter Teen Service Retreat starting Saturday, December 27- January 2, 2009.
The week long event is an wonderful blend of liturgical services and spiritual topics, intermixed with Orthodox service activities fun, friendship and fellowship. Retreat participants will help at an orphanage for girls in Reynosa, Mexico, as well as an expanded distribution of food from the St. George's Food Pantry.
This year all particpants will be required to have a US PASSPORT OR PASSPORT CARD. It may be possible to have a photo ID and a copy of our birth certificate, but a US Passport is best.
The Spiritual Retreat Focus Sessions will include: Finding and Living Our Calling In Christ
- no matter who or where we find ourselves. The Focus sessions will be led by retreat clergy presenters.
The Tentative Dates and Schedule are:Saturday, December 27th
- Travel and gather - Great Vespers - Supper - Blessing of retreat facilitySunday, December 28th -
Divine Liturgy and Brunch at St. George's - Afternoon activity - Evening Dinner at Church - 1st Spiritual Session in Early Evening - Open to Parish and General PublicMonday, December 29th
- Work Day - Sorting Donations - Spiritual SessionsTuesday, December 30th
- Casa Amparo Orphanage for Girls in Reynosa, Mexico - Delivery of donations, lunch & work project. Shopping in Mexico.Wednesday, December 31st
- St. George's Food Pantry Special Distribution - Distribute food, clothing, blankets, toiletries, toys and more to hungry Valley families. Afternoon Spiritual Session. Great Vespers at 6 PM followed by a Pot-Luck New Year's Eve Singing Party.Thursday, January 1st
- South Padre Island Beach Trip, Weather PermittingFriday, January 2nd
- Divine Liturgy in Spanish - Brunch at Church - Farewells and Photos Cost:
$200.00 per participant. Includes local lodging, meals and snacks, local transportation, beach and border crossing fees.Click here for photos of last year's retreat
Click here for registration and more information
(Pharr, TX) Priest George Dahdouh, Pastor at St. Elias Orthodox Mission of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), located in Houston, Texas will be part of this year's 4th Annual Winter Youth Retreat here. He will lead the Spiritual Focus Sessions. Father George will be sharing the opening address on Sunday evening, December 28th, as well as the Monday retreat sessions. Father Dahdouh, who is Egyptian, grew up in Sudan, Africa - and has had considerable missionary experience, especially in predominately Muslim settings. He will add greatly to our retreat spiritual topic of "Finding and Living Our Calling In Christ."
His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri was informed early today that that Patriarch Alexy II of Russia died in his office earlier today. Click here for the CNN report.Click here for USA and International News stories
Coverage of the today's funeral of the late Patriarch Aleksy II provided by RT -Russian Televsion. Click here.
(Dallas, TX) Tithes and offerings to the DOS in 2006 totaled a record $649,430 with expenses totaling $576,571 for a surplus of $72,859 as reported by DOS Treasurer, Milos Konjevich. Looking inside the numbers reveals even more good financial news as tithes increased from $301,957 in 2005 to $404,498 a nearly 35% increase. “What is even more remarkable is that all of this was accomplished in a year in which there was an OCA assessment increase” states Mr. Konjevich. “Historically when the OCA hikes the assessment, we have a deficit year and it takes another year for us to break even or show a surplus.”
Another remarkable figure of note from the 2006 financials is the figure of $124,389 reinvested in DOS missions. This figure represents $47,098 of DOS income for missions, most of which comes from missions repaying loans to the diocese for money borrowed with the balance coming from the DOS general fund to support the missionary growth of the diocese. After paying $236,330 to the OCA in assessments, and $136,838 for Payroll, the Missions line item was the next highest outlay.
The DOS has for several years, when possible, acted as its own bank in loaning money to its missions. Such recirculation of funds inside the DOS means that missions can borrow money at a lower interest rate and the recirculated money can be reinvested in other missions. “Why give the money to the bank when you can be your own bank and help your missions” reflects Mr. Konjevich.
Looking at the OCA Assessment income and expenses, one will notice a shortfall. This is because the DOS is committed to sending what it is obligated to pay based on parish census figures, no matter if the OCA assessment income is locally collected or not. However, it is also not uncommon for some OCA assessment income to arrive after the close of the calendar year, so it would show up in the financials for the following year, thus reducing the actual shortfall.
As for 2007, a look at the numbers shows that Tithe income is already ahead of last year's record pace.
God bless all the clergy and faithful of the DOS for following the biblical example of tithing and sacrificial giving.
2007 DOS Income and Expense Statement
OCA Assessment $192,915.00
Missions $ 47,098.00
The Dawn $ 237.00
Assembly $ 3,480.00
Other Receipts $ 1,203.00
OCA Assessment $236,330.00
Travel $ 14,682.00
Administrative & Office $ 6,882,00
Building & Grounds $ 6,685.00
The Dawn $ 9,850.00
Dean Stipends $ 28,925.00
Allotments $ 11,990.00
Milos Konjevich, DOS Treasurer, has released several financial reports in anticipation of the upcoming Diocesan Assembly in Miami. Although the reports are primarily for the Assembly clergy and lay delegates, His Eminence wishes that they be posted on the DOS website so that anyone in the Diocese may review them.
The proposed 2008 DOS Budget that will discussed and enacted at the Assembly will also be online in the next several days.
The reports are in .pdf format and include the following:Consolidated Financial Statements and Membership Statistics
Consolidated Income Statement
Consolidated Balance Sheet
Tithes, Assessments, and Census by Deanery Report
Delegates are asked to study the reports and if they have any questions prior to the Assembly to please contact Mr Konjevich at 214-522-4149 or via email at email@example.com
With the blessing of His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri and in preparation for the upcoming 2007 DOS Assembly, Treasurer, Mr Milos Konjevich has released final updated reports for the Assembly. The attached files include:1.Consolidated Financial Statements and Membership Statistics2.Tithes, Assessments, and Membership Census by Deanery3.Tithes, Assessments, and Membership Census by Parish4.Financial Assistance Provided to Missions, Parishes, and Seminarians5.Tithes and Assessments by Parish – Year to Date Comparison6.Consolidated Balance Sheets7.Consolidated Income Statements8.Budget Report – Calendar Year 2006 and Interim 20079.Proposed 2008 Budget
As customary, the audit of the DOS finances will be made prior to the Assembly and reported to those in attendance and reported to the Diocese when made via the DOS website. Please note that these new reports replace interim reports previously posted on the DOS website.
All those attending the DOS Assembly are asked to download and print these reports and bring them to the Assembly in Miami. You are encouraged to ask any questions or make any comments to Mr. Konjevich prior to the Assembly so as to improve the presentation made at the Assembly. You may contact Mr. Konjevich at firstname.lastname@example.org via phone at 214-522-4149The attached files are grouped into one .pdf file for your convenience as a single download.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
On behalf of the clergy and faithful of the Diocese of the South, welcome to our Diocesan website. The purpose of this website is to give glory to God and to invite those searching for the Truth that is Jesus Christ, to "come and see."
This website will also serve to help us better communicate with the more remote parishes of the Diocese of the South, for we are a diocese which stretches from New Mexico in the west to Florida in the east, from Virginia in the north to the Mexican border of Texas in the south. Thus, this website can be a tool for "bridging the gap" that our geography imposes.
We are a missionary diocese committed to the growth of the Orthodox Christian Faith, the Faith given to the Apostles by our Lord and handed down in an unbroken succession from that time to the present in The Orthodox Church.
We are a welcoming diocese to those who are already Orthodox Christians or to those who are searching for the fullness of the Truth.
By the Grace of God and the sacrificial commitment of its clergy and faithful, we are a diocese that is growing both spiritually and numerically. We teach the practice of tithing and encourage our faithful to tithe to their parishes. In turn, the parishes of the Diocese of the South tithe to the Diocese to support its missionary growth.
We are a diocese that encourages mission communities to commit to the building of their own church facilities as soon as it is possible and prudent. Even now new churches are under construction across the Diocese of the South.
We are a diocese that is constantly looking to plant new missions in areas that have little or no Orthodox presence. We are aware that the population shift in the United States is south and west and we are doing our best to plant communities to be ready to minister to those moving into the boundaries of this diocese as well as those already here. Such a population shift is a blessing given to us by our Lord and we work to be equal to the challenges it offers.
In 2008, the Diocese of the South will celebrate its 30th Anniversary. Created in 1978 by action of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, the Diocese of the South consisted of less than 15 parishes. Today we are a diocese approaching 70 communities.
Again, welcome to our website. We pray that you will make use of it and that it will help you in your personal and communal efforts to share the Orthodox Faith will all those you encounter.
With love in Christ,
Archbishop of Dallas and The Diocese of the South
Funeral arrangements for the newly departed Archpriest George Breyan have been announced by Archpriest Ted Pisarchuk, dean of the Orlando deanery.
All services will be held at St Andrew Orthodox Church, New Port Richey, Florida.
The schedule of services is as follows:
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 17 5:00PM Visitation with the Funeral Service for a Priest at 6:00PM
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18 9:30AM Divine Liturgy
Father George will be buried at St. Tikhon Monastery, South Canaan, PA.OCA IN MEMORIAMNEW PORT RICHEY, FL [OCA Communications]
-- The Very Rev. George Breyan, 78, a retired priest of the Diocese of the South of the Orthodox Church in America, fell asleep in the Lord on Monday, September 14, 2009.
Father George was stricken while on his way to Saint Andrew Church here, where he was attached, for services for the Great Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.
A native of Bayonne, NJ, Father George was a graduate of Bayonne Junior College and Rutgers University. He completed late vocation studies at Saint Vladimir's Seminary. He also served with the US Navy for four years.
After his ordination, Father George served parishes in Manville, NJ; Hollywood, FL; Lakewood, OH; Marblehead, OH; and Detroit, MI. He retired from active ministry in 1999, having helped to establish a mission parish in Iverness, FL. In retirement, he assisted at Saint Andrew Church, New Port Richey, FL.
Father George, together with his wife of 51 years, the former Natalie Kiryluk, daughter of the late Very Rev. Theodosius and Eugenia Kiryluk, were very active in the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians of America. He also served as secretary of the Greater Cleveland Pan-Orthodox Clergy Association and as a VFW chaplain.
Father George is survived by his wife, Natalie, to whom heartfelt condolences are extended.
Funeral arrangements have been finalized by Father George's family and the Rev. Pavel Yurin, rector of Saint Andrew Church, 4633 Glissade Drive, New Port Richey, FL, at which all services will be held.
Visitation with be held on Thursday, September 17, at 5:00 p.m. The Funeral Service for a Priest will follow at 6:00 p.m.
The Divine Liturgy will be celebrated on Friday, September 18, at 9:30 a.m.
Interment will take place at Saint Tikhon's Monastery Cemetery, South Canaan, PA.
May Father George's memory be eternal.
Archpriest George Breyan, a retired cleric of the Diocese of the South, attached to St. Andrew Orthodox Church in New Port Richey, FL
fell asleep in the Lord today as he was on his way to church services for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.
Funeral arrangements are being finalized by Priest Pavel Yurin, rector of St. Andrew’s and Fr. George’s family. We extend our heartfelt and prayerful condolences to Matushka Natalia.
More information on funeral services will be posted when they become available.
May the memory of the Archpriest George Breyan be eternal.
(Dallas, TX) Members of the DOS Episcopal Search Committee met on Friday, September 4 on a conference call to begin work discerning God’s will on who will be the next ruling hierarch for the Diocese of the South. The Episcopal Search Committee is composed of the DOS deans and DOS Chancellor.
The Episcopal Search Committee is also working under the guidance of the Holy Synod of Bishop knowing that the Synod is now reviewing the process for filling vacant diocesan sees. Their review and forthcoming direction will help focus the work of the Committee.
Committee members discussed what experience and qualities an “ideal” candidate would possess. The Committee is looking to involve a representative number of DOS laity as its work progresses. The exact method for such exchanges is still being considered in light of the vast geographic expanse of the diocese. The Committee will meet again in October after the fall session of the Holy Synod.
New Mural in Jacksonville, FL
New Mural in Jacksonville, FL
With the start of the new Church Year, it is time for another edition of DOS News and Notes, some highlights from various communities in the diocese.
Priest Peter Robichau, a senior at St Vladimir’s Seminary, completed his summer internship at St Basil the Great Mission in Wilmington, NC
. The mission paid a stipend of $2,000 a month the summer months to bring Fr Peter and his family to NC and further develop the mission there with a priest in residence and an expanded liturgical schedule.
Fr Peter reports that St. Basil the Great Mission in Wilmington, NC is preparing to occupy is first "non borrowed space" and will likely sign a lease on a property in Wilmington during the week of September 1. The DOS has loaned the mission $15,000 for the renovation of their new worship and fellowhship space. They are also hosting the Carolinas Deanery Choir for an outreach event on September 26. As part of the fall Music at St. Paul's concert series in Wilmington, the event will be a great opportunity for St. Basil the Great Mission to invite the citizens of Wilmington to be part of the work that we are doing. While the mission is currently without a priest, it will be serviced by visiting clergy from the deanery three times monthly, and Fr. Peter will be traveling down from SVS once monthly during his last year of seminary.
The DOS is exploring this type of model for other missions in the diocese connecting ordained seminary students who wish to return to the DOS with missions in the diocese in need of a priest.
Priest John Beal is the new priest-in-charge of the Protection of the Virgin Mary Mission in Clarksville, TN.
The mission is celebrating its first year as a stand-alone mission. The genesis of this mission was first as a military chaplaincy under the guidance of Fr Peter Dubinin. Now the mission is off-base. Already this past August, Fr John enrolled four adult catechumens and a baby. Sunday attendance is between 30-35 souls. The mission is renting a church building in Clarksville.
Speaking of catechumens, Priest Antonio Perdomo at St. George the Great martyr Church in Pharr, TX has 11 people now enrolled and preparing to be received into the Orthodox Church. Not to be outdone, as we “boast in the Lord” Priest Justin Patterson of St Athanasius Mission in Nicholasville, KY
has 15 catechumens! Fr Antonio will receive 4 of the 11 the first Sunday in September. Some of the catechumens being received actually live in Mexico across the border from Pharr. Winter is a busy time in Pharr and preparations are now underway for the 5th Annual International Winter Service Retreat for Youth and Young Adults to be held Sunday evening December 27, 2009 though Saturday January 2, 2010. Additional Information will be forthcoming. Information can be found at: http://www.stgeorgepantry.org/winteryouthretreat.html
Getting back to Nicholasville, KY., Fr Justin also reports that a new iconostasis and other renovations are taking place at St Athanasius partially from a $4,500 loan provided by the DOS.
Down the road at St. Anne’s in Oak Ridge, TN
, Priest Stephen Freeman reports that the parish hosted OCMC
missionary James Hargrave who will be off to Tanzania early next year. We look forward to being part of his missionary support. Kenneth Kidd from OCMC also spoke at the Church and accepted the gift of more than 100 Bibles on behalf of the OCMC. The Bibles were the culmination of a Sunday School project led by the 3rd through 7th grade class.
The OCF chapter at the University of Tennessee began its new year last week with its largest number yet. We look forward to continued growth on campus. Fr. Stephen (St. Anne) spends Thursdays on campus.
Fr. Stephen has also signed a contract with Conciliar Press for write a book related to some of his writings on his very popular blog “Glory to God for All Things.”
The blog recently passed the 1.5 million views mark.
Archpriest Ted Pisarchuk has been a very busy new dean of the Orlando deanery in the past few months traveling from Jacksonville to several parishes in the deanery on “official dean business.” A beautiful new icon of the Communion of the Apostles which now graces the High Place at St Justin Martyr Church.
A new mission-station in Rock Hill, SC is just about ready to be launched reports Priest Paul Coats, who is attached to the Dormition of the Theotokos in nearby Charlotte
. Rock Hill is a suburb of Charlotte, NC, just across the NC/SC border. This mission is part of the long-range plan for new missions in the Carolinas deanery.
Gainsville, FL will restart its OCF this month on the campus of the University of Florida. A new mission station is about ready to start in conjunction with the OCF outreach.
Hieromonk James (Bohlman), rector of St Mary Magdalene Church in Rincon, GA
reports that St Mary’s has reached a record membership level of 59 adults. They also currently have five catechumens. The parish also has a monthly outreach to the Helena, GA mission-station of Ss. Constantine and Helen. The parish, with the help of the DOS just refinanced their church loan. Also with the help of the DOS, the parish has been able to pay down their debt at an accelerated rate. Their original debt was $182,000, it is now $100,000.
Priest Seraphim Hipsh, dean of the Dallas deanery just finished a vacation/deanery trip to four Dallas deanery parishes in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
We say goodbye to Priest Basil Biberdorf who was released from his pastoral duties at St Cyril of Jerusalem Mission in The Woodlands, TX and transferred to the Diocese of Western Pennsylvania. Also, Priest Paul Burhort was released from his duties as priest-in-charge of The Protecting Veil Mission-station in Kerrville, TX. Fr Paul took a job with the US Government in Hawaii. Archpriest Mark Stevens was released from his duties at St Stephen the Protomartyr Church in Longwood, FL. He is currently on a leave of absence. As reported eariler, we say hello and welcome to the DOS to Fr John Beal and to Archpriest Benjamin Henderson who lives in El Paso, TX.
Tithes to the DOS are, as of August 31, running ahead of last year's pace $313,674 to $305,042. The $316,674 figure is only $2,500 behind the record 2007 DOS Tithes YTD. The second quarter DOS financials will be posted here by the end of September.
September 1, 2009
To the Venerable Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, Monastics and Faithful
of the Orthodox Church in America
The Lord said:The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD."
Dearly Beloved in Christ:
The Blessing of the Lord be upon you!
As we celebrate the Church's New Year, we meditate on the Gospel for this day, where the Lord went to Nazareth and was handed the Scriptures, and read the above. He then said, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
The question we have to ask ourselves is, How is this fulfilled in my life? How have I entered into the Lord's ministry, preaching the good news to the poor, healing the brokenhearted, giving liberty to captives, and so forth? Am I even paying attention to this?
Our Church has many challenges before it, financial, legal, organizational. But we must remember that, as important as these things are, as critical as they may be the life of our Church at this time, they can quickly become distractions from the one thing needful: to keep focused on Jesus Christ and the ministries which He has given us as a means of participation in His own ministry. While we might have budget challenges, there is nothing that can prevent us from preaching the Gospel, consoling those alone and abandoned, and setting at liberty those held captive by their sins.
We have been "recreated in Christ for good works." Let us do that work, not because we expect a paycheck or recognition for doing it, but because it is the very nature of who we are as Christians: to manifest the Kingdom by showing love for our neighbor. Let us recover our spiritual sight, in Christ by the Spirit, so that we may know that the Spirit of the Lord is upon us, and has anointed us to do the Lord's will.
Each one of us has been anointed by the Lord do the works of God -- in chrismation. We don't have to wait for a program or a department to do them. In whatever walk of life, no matter who we are, we are called to enter into the Lord's labors. So let us put aside all distraction, keeping all things in their proper perspective, with our attention and focus firmly on Jesus Christ. We then might just find that our distractions and crises are not so big as we thought they were and that we have been given everything that we need to resolve them, if we indeed can maintain our awareness of Christ, striving for the fulfillment of His will.
With love in Christ,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada
Locum tenens of the Diocese of the South
Sixteen priests and three deacons representing five Orthodox jurisdictions gathered in Raleigh, NC last night to serve the Unction service for Priest Edward Rommen who was recently diagosed with cancer.
Priest Marcus Burch, dean of the Carolinas deanery and fellow clergy from the deanery were present for the service. Father Edward is the priest of Holy Transfiguration Church in Raleigh.
Please keep Father Rommen in your prayers as he undergoes treatment.Photos of Unction Service
(Dallas, TX) The DOS Chancery office will be undergoing a telephone service upgrade for the next several days. During this period of time voice-messaging may be unavailable. The phone upgrade should be completed by the end of the week. In an emergency and if you are unable to leave a voice-message, you can call 972-251-0888 until service is restored. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience.
Frs Burch, Fester, Smith and Freeman with His Beatitude
Frs Burch, Fester, Smith and Freeman with His Beatitude
(Dallas, TX) With the blessing of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, Locum Tenens of the Diocese of the South, an Episcopal Search Committee has been established. The Committee was approved at the recently concluded DOS Assembly in Atlanta.
The Search Committee will consist of the DOS deans and the chancellor of the Diocese. Members of the Committee include, Archpriest Philip Reese, Archpriest Peter Smith, Archpriest Ted Pisarchuk, Priest Stephen Freeman, Priest Marcus Burch, Priest Seraphim Hisph and Archpriest Joseph Fester.
The Episcopal Search Committee is scheduled to hold their first meeting in early September.
The report of the DOS Treasurer presented at the recently concluded 2009 Assemby was a watershed document in the life of the diocese. The resolutions passed at the Assembly defined how the diocese will relate to the central church administration with regards to the OCA Assessment and how the diocese will help her parishes fund their missioinary work.
In response to questions currently being fielded by Milos Konjevich, DOS Treasurer, he asks that “those with questions, re-read my report and the accompanying resolutions from the Assembly.” Clergy and parish council members are encouraged to then contact Milos by email or phone with their specific questions. “We are here to answer questions and to be specific to each parish situation in our response so that the most positive impact of these new resolutions can be felt in the parishes and missions of the diocese.”
Diocese of the South
Orthodox Church in America
P.O. Box 191109
Dallas, Texas 75219
Net Income went from $65,984 in 2007 to a deficit of $72,488 in 2008. Total expenses increased by $59.498 and income categories decreased by $78,934. Except for a few minor variations, expenses were within budget, thus it is the income decline that needs to be addressed.
Over half the decline, $40,991, came from the small investment portfolio ($46K cost) that produced net gains of $15,308 in 2007 but incurred unrealized losses of $25,683 in 2008. Approximately 60% of the portfolio had been sold off during 2005-07 at a profit of $62,000, and the proceeds were “reinvested” in church building projects . The portfolio has increased in value by $5,270 as of June 30.
Interest income decreased by $16,996, partially due to lower rates on deposit accounts, but primarily because of a policy decision to discontinue charging interest on money loaned to the parishes and missions.
Tithes decreased by $28,853 (5.5%) and were $21,167 under budget. This may be explained away by the “bad economy” or even rationalized as a “market correction” following the explosive Tithe growth of the two preceding years. There is some truth in both. Economic downturns and market corrections are recurring phenomena that impact church finances. However, it appears that church organizations feel the recessionary pinch later than does the economy as a whole; that their decline is not as large; and that they recover more quickly when the economy begins to improve. Evidence to the foregoing is presented on Page 4 of this report
, where a comparison is made between DOS Tithe growth performance and that of various financial market indices over the past fourteen years. Our Tithe growth has clearly outperformed the stock and bond market indices in both rising and declining economic periods, and resoundingly so during this decade.
Tithe income as of July 10, 2009 is $251,872, compared to $251,848 this time last year. If the average monthly Tithe patterns of the past thirteen years hold up we’ll reach $516,000 for the full year. If, in fact, the economic recovery has begun the budget goal of $600,000 for 2010 is well within our historical Tithe growth patterns. The standard financial analyst disclaimer, “Past performance does not guarantee future results” is certainly applicable here. What has been demonstrated, however, is that the best investment for this Diocese, strictly on the basis of financial return, is not stocks, bonds, or bank accounts, but rather the planting of new churches and assisting in the development of its existing parishes and missions.
Last year the Diocese provided direct cash assistance of $436,333 to its parishes and missions, an amount equal to 88% of Tithe income, but still finished the year with MORE cash than it had at the start. How was this possible? Didn’t we have a decrease in Tithe income? Didn’t we pass a budget that provided for large spending increases in other areas? Was there a cut in the OCA Membership Assessment? (No). Did we pay the OCA Membership Assessment? (Yes, and ahead of schedule). The answer is really very simple, but perhaps revolutionary.
First, we started the year with cash reserves of $308,920, and for only one week in late September did they dip below $100,000. Second, Tithe and Membership Assessment receipts were running ahead of the 2007 pace for much of the year: it wasn’t until September that the probability of a lesser year began to emerge. Third, on October 1st St. Sava, Plano, made a lump sum payment of $151,000 on their 2007 loan from the Diocese. (The loan facilitated the purchase of land upon which St. Sava’s promises to build a church that will rival the best that the Diocese has to offer.) Fourth, the cash increase that resulted from the growing number of churches that have opted to deposit their cash reserves with the Diocese: such deposits increased by $70,000 from October to December, which enabled us to finish the year with cash reserves of $330,624, the largest year-end total in our history.
If the Diocese had NOT collected the Membership Assessment from the churches in 2008 the revenue loss would have $205,638, and cash reserves would be reduced to $124,987: our year-end total in 2005 was less than half that amount. Thus, cash reserves wouldn’t have been dangerously depleted and the disposable income of the churches would have increased by $205,638. Alternatively, had the Diocese collected the Membership Assessment but credited the proceeds to interest-bearing deposit accounts cash reserves would have remained at $330,624 and the cash reserves of the churches would be have been enhanced by $205,638. What the foregoing seeks to demonstrate is that the Membership Assessment charge to the churches could be eliminated without destabilizing the finances of the Diocese, and that the practice of depositing cash reserves with the Diocese not only mitigates that risk but also promotes the general welfare all the parties.
At year end 2008 there were nine church depositors, with total deposits of $228,156. At June 30, 2009, the totals were thirteen and $324,939, respectively. It is expected that the number of churches placing their cash reserves with the Diocese will continue to grow, perhaps at an increasing rate if the Membership Assessment is lifted. Banks utilize our church deposits for their own purpose but it is becoming increasingly evident that in difficult economic times, such as these, the commercial lending windows are simply closed to churches. It is therefore important that a system of internal financing be developed in order to ensure that funds will be available to support building initiatives, when needed , without having to wait until the banks are ready to start lending again. Our Balance Sheet already resembles that of a bank and we’re really not far away from being able to provide primary funding for church land acquisition and building construction.
TreasurerFinancial Resolutions Passed at the 2009 DOS Assembly
Glory to God in the Diocese of the South
Back to the Future
Almost the first statement from Metropolitan Jonah to the diocese at this years assembly was, “The Diocese of the South is the future of the Orthodox Church in America.” I took that as one of the most hopeful things I’ve heard in the last number of years. It is an affirmation of what we are doing now - but also an affirmation of a “future” that was established in the very beginnings of our Diocese.
Three things come most to mind when I hear the stories of our diocese’ founding - stories that I have heard fondly recalled particularly by Vladyka Dmitri.
The first is the missionary vision of an indigenous Orthodox Church. Vladyka Dmitri, himself an “adult” convert to the faith, has always expressed a great warmth and enthusiasm for the Church’s outreach to the people around us. “I have always gone wherever I was invited,” he once told me, and advised me to do the same. It has been a cornerstone of my own missionary work as an Orthodox priest. Our diocese was once unusual for its large number of “converts” to the faith. Today, only one or two members of the Holy Synod can claim to have be born into an Orthodox family while converts make up the largest percentage of our clergy. In this regard - the Diocese of the South has become the present and not just the future of the OCA.
A second thing is a lively commitment to the faith. Orthodoxy is not a “religious option” in a consumer-driven culture: it is the fullness of the faith as given to us in Christ. Were Orthodoxy simply an option from a range of choices - our task would be to provide advertising and consumer information. However, because it is a gift from God and not the creation of man, it is a life to be embraced and lived. The first task of our life as Orthodox Christians has always been to become Orthodox Christians, and to continue becoming. Vladyka Jonah’s words to the assembly in Atlanta were precisely a call to that deep life of the faith. He urged us to become “sober” (neptic). In a world driven by the passions, Orthodox Christians must learn to be driven by Christ and Christ alone.
The third thing is a matter which goes to the very founding of the diocese itself. From the beginning it was decided that the Diocese would teach and practice the tithe: returning to God a tenth of what God has given us. For years the diocese stood alone in this commitment and was often seen as unduly “protestant” in its handling of money. (Never-mind the fact that the tithe and the principle of tithing is the only form of stewardship actually taught in the Scriptures.) For a time the diocese also asked for the national assessment (often referred to as the “head tax”). This year the diocese approved a 2010 budget that asks only the tithe - the original commitment of the Churches in the diocese - back to the future.
I pray that the Metropolitan’s words are prophetic. For the practice of such biblical principles as the tithe has resulted in the Diocese of the South, despite its lesser membership, having one of the largest income of any diocese in the OCA. It is from such abundance that the Diocese can continue to commit 25 percent of its budget to mission and parish development. The parish’s stewardship to the diocese is clearly an investment in the lives of parishes within the diocese. The sense of trust and family that is a hallmark of the diocese are deeply related to how we handle money. How we handle money - like every other aspect of the diocese - is deeply related to the Gospel of Christ - as it should be.
The Diocese of the South, by God’s grace, may indeed become the future of the OCA. Such a gift will mean that we are remaining faithful to the Godly vision that was given to us in our founding. By God’s grace it will mean that the gift God gave to us in our founding was always meant for the whole Church. May God grant us all such a good future and grant many years to all of our diocesan family!
THE DIOCESE OF THE SOUTH
2009 DOS ASSEMBLY
July 23, 2009
Report of the Chancellor
Your Beatitude, Reverend Fathers, Monastics, Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Glory be to Jesus Christ! Glory Forever!
I would first like to thank the Local Committee for this 2009 Assembly of the Diocese of the South for their tireless efforts in making this year’s Assembly a joyous and blessed gathering and to our friends here at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedrall for providing their excellent facilities for our worship and our meetings.
Since being appointed by Metropolitan Jonah to the position of Chancellor of the Diocese of the South I have been charged by His Beatitude to assist in coordinating work inside the DOS between the Chancery office and His Beatitude as Locum Tenens. My position as Chancellor is not one of decision or policy making rather to coordinate and assist. In some ways my work has not changed significantly from that of being the chancery assistant in that coordination duties and assisting the work of His Eminence were daily duties. Fostering communication between deans and members of the diocesan council were and continue to be part of my responsibilities.
Since coming to the DOS under His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri three years ago, enhancing the profile of the Dallas chancery with more timely communication via phone and email has, we hope, helped to create a greater sense of connectiveness on practical matters between parishes and the chancery. Given the wide expanse of the DOS and the isolation that a parish and priest might feel, being available to answer a question or direct communication to the bishop in an expeditious manner is a high priority for the chancery staff.
His Beatitude, as our Locum Tenens, and given the reality of his many duties as Metropolitan, has asked that DOS communications to him come through the Dallas chancery. Of course anyone is welcome to contact His Beatitude directly, but with the volume of calls and emails he receives daily, using the Chancery as a contact point may yield a more timely response, especially when time is of the essence.
One of the most cost effective and most powerful methods the DOS has used in the last three years is the DOS website. Viewership continues to grow and in anticipation of greater exposure in the future, a total redesign of the DOS website has taken place. Working with Orthodox Web Solutions, the DOS website is now positioned to utilize video and audio modules more effectively to better communicate with those inside and outside the DOS. Fr. Stephen Freeman’s Blog “Glory To God For All Things” will be a daily feature on the new website. We also encourage all clergy in the DOS to contribute articles to the website.
There will be staff changes in the chancery starting this September when Archpriest Basil Zebrun will assume full-time duties as rector of St Barbara Church in Fort Worth. His loss to the chancery will be significant given his institutional history of the DOS and the pastoral insights he brings to our work. I will personally miss him a great deal because he is a friend and fellow classmate at St Vladimir’s Seminary.
The chancery team, in my estimation, is anchored by Mr. Milos Konjevich, DOS Treasurer and Administrator. There is no doubt that Milos’ contributions to the financial health of the DOS can not be overestimated . His decades of experience working for the FDIC coupled with his missionary zeal makes him an invaluable member of the Diocese. We are blessed to have such a person as a true steward of our diocesan finances.
Of course our love for His Beatitude is sincere and we look to him for direction on matters pastoral, parochial, and administrative. All of us working in the Chancery understand and accept that we serve at the pleasure of the bishop. We serve as long as we are of value to him and to the Church. There can never be, nor is there, any sense of proprietary right to our positions. This humbling and freely accepted reality helps to keep us focused on the work and not ourselves.
The DOS continues to grow evidenced by the need for a new deanery in south Texas. Deaneries serve to better administrate the work of the Gospel, thus if there are ways to gerrymander deanery boundaries so that they can be more effective, such ideas are considered.
One can read from the various deanery reports that the emphasis on planting new missions and assisting parishes striving to grow are top priorities of the DOS administration. Funding new missions with mission planting grants, helping reduce the cost of mission and parish debt by leveraging the power of the Tithe to reinvest DOS income back to the missions and parishes of the DOS are fundamental principles used to redistribute DOS finances where they are needed most to help promote missionary growth and parish development.
What marks this diocese as different from other dioceses is that we consider your Tithes to be held in trust by the DOS for use in other communities, or if needed, back to your community when a need arises. We are in a partnership with you to spread the Gospel and bring the Orthodox faith to areas of this diocese where there is little or no Orthodox witness.
As stated above, the key to this is the Tithe. You will be hearing us talk about a “real Tithe” and what a powerful means it can be to transform the work of the DOS. When the DOS was created it was on the principal of the Tithe and for a time the communities in this Diocese did not have to concern themselves with the OCA Assessment. The Tithe covered that obligation In the diocese. Unfortunately when the OCA Assessment continued to grow it took a larger percentage of diocesan funds to service that obligation and thus a decision was made to pass along the collection of the Assessment to the parishes so that the diocesan budget would not be impacted so negatively. The result of this decision has been years in which smaller communities have had to manage their Tithe to the diocese so as to manage their OCA Assessment obligation. This has caused communities to make decisions about what monies they will Tithe to the diocese and what they can pay against the Assessment while maintaining local cash flow to do the necessary work in the parish.
Yet, despite this reality, Tithes have consistently increased and in the last three years we have seen a dramatic increase in Tithe gifts which makes it possible for the DOS to increase the level of financial support (25%) back to our missions and parishes. I ask that you refer to the Report of the Treasurer and listen carefully to what Milos will present later today. He will detail what is meant by a “real Tithe” and with DOS communities offering a “real Tithe” we project that it would no longer be necessary for parishes to collect the OCA Assessment, thus freeing communities to not make membership decisions on purely financial grounds. Thus we ask, “if there was a way that you would not have to count heads and be bothered with the OCA head tax, would you be interested?” I think we would all agree the answer is “Yes” and the “real Tithe” will make that possible.
We will be considering some important changes to the DOS Uniform Parish Bylaws at this Assembly. These changes were first introduced in the aftermath of the Atlanta court case involving St Mary of Egypt’s attempt to leave the OCA and join ROCOR. I wish to thank the members of the Diocesan Council for their review of the proposed Uniform Parish Bylaw changes, and in particular, Archpriest Dmitri Cozby and Mr. Ray Lanier, Esq. who worked on the original document and have been instrumental in our efforts to resurrect this unfinished business and act on it at the Assembly. Judge Lanier will make the Bylaws presentation later today.
Finally, at most importantly, we are a diocese without a ruling hierarch. We are blessed to have His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah as our Locum Tenens until such time as the Lord reveals to us who our next bishop will be. His Beatitude has set up an Episcopal Search Committee composed of the diocesan chancellor and the diocesan deans. If suitable candidates are discovered prior to next year’s Diocesan Assembly we may need to call a special Diocesan Assembly to nominate a candidate or candidates to the Holy Synod for their consideration. Please keep this in mind and share this possibility with your respective parish councils especially for budgetary purposes.
In closing, I wish to thank His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah for his confidence in me, to the members of the Chancery staff, to the deans and members of the Diocesan Council and to all of you gathered here, especially my wife Kathy, who keeps me grounded.
God bless you all.
Archpriest Joseph Fester, Chancellor
The Diocese of the South
BOCA RATON, FL [OCA Communications] -- Matushka Ellen Gvosdev, 66, wife of the Very Rev. Kirill Gvosdev, rector of Saint Nicholas Church here, fell asleep in the Lord on Thursday, July 23, 2009.
Matushka Ellen was awarded a Ph.D. from the Union Institute in Pastoral Practice with emphasis on Sexual Malfeasance in the Church in 1994. Her core faculty was a professor from Yale, and her mentors included an Orthodox Christian monk with a Ph.D. in psychology and an Episcopalian priest with expertise in the same field. She also underwent training with the original experts in the field, Dr. Marie Fortune (Director, Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Abuse and Violence, with emphasis on non-denominational clerical misconduct); Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA, a center for women abused by clergy; Canon Margo Maris (Episcopal Diocese of Minneapolis, Clerical Sexual Abuse Advocacy Center); Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests; Dr.Glen Gabbard, (Menninger Clinic); the Rev. Lloyd G. Rediger, a therapist to clergy abusers; Dr. Gary Schoener, a Minneapolis counselor, author, and lecturer on clerical sexual misconduct issues; and several attorneys who specialize in clerical misconduct/abuse legal issues. She completed an internship, and later lectured, at the Pastoral Counseling Center of Ft. Lauderdale. She was one of eight (from an original 42) to graduate from the first Saint Stephen’s Masters equivalency program, at that time a theological/pastoral program for priests in the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.
Matushka Ellen authored numerous articles for Catholic periodicals (including "Priest," a clergy periodical); wrote for "Synergia," the publication of the Orthodox Christian Association of Psychology, Medicine and Religion; and prepared the clerical sexual abuse presentation for the Orthodox Church in America's Resource Handbook for Lay Ministries (http://www.oca.org/RHArticle.asp?SID=15&ArticleID=45). The article was referenced in official documents of the OCA Holy Synod of Bishops on sexual misconduct. She presented lectures to OCA and Antiochian clergy wives, the pan-Orthodox Clergy Association of South Florida, the Ecumenical Association of Palm Beach County, Orthodox Christian Laity, Lutheran Association of Broward County, and many other groups. She served as a consultant on some diocesan misconduct problems. Among her numerous works, she authored "The Female Diaconate, an Historical Perspective."
In addition to her husband, Father Kirill, she is survived by one son, Dr. Nikolas Gvosdev of New Port, RI, and a grandson, Adrian Alexander Gvosdev Kranz.
Funeral services were held on Saturday, July 25, at Saint Nicholas Church, Fort Lauderdale, FL. In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be sent to Saint Nicholas Church, 2001 N. Andrews Ave, Wilton Manors, FL. Online condolences may be sent to kalismcintee.com.
Day Two of the 2009 DOS Assembly concluded tonight with the Assembly Keynote Address presented by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah. The theme of the Address was “Spiritual Maturity in Christ.” (Listen here)
An audience of 300+ nearly filled Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral to listen to the Locum Tenens of the Diocese of the South. At one point in the presentation, His Beatitude asked the gathered, “How many of you were born Orthodox?” Of the 300+ only 10 raised their hands! That is 2.5% of the audience - a truly remarkable yet significant indication of the missionary reality of the DOS.
The day began with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. Prior to the Liturgy 4 men were tonsured readers, with two then set-aside as sub deacons. During the Liturgy, Gerry Sondergard, the twin brother of Archpriest George Sondergard, was received into the Orthodox Church by confession of Faith and the Rite of Vesting. Deacon Sondergard was a Byzantine Catholic deacon.
The rest of the day was spent in a series of Workshops on various topics including: Pastoral Care and Contemporary Sexual Issues, Couplehood as a Spiritual Path and Evangelism and Discipleship through Traditional Orthodox Architecture. Prior to the Workshops, a Hearing on the proposed 2010 DOS Budget and Parish Financial Development.
Tomorrow, the DOS Assembly business meetings will begin with a morning and afternoon plenary sessions before the evening banquet. The Assembly concludes on Friday with the Divine Liturgy celebrated at St John the Wonderworker Church in downtown Atlanta.
Diocesan Council Meeting
Diocesan Council Meeting
His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, Locum Tenens of the Diocese of the South led the meeting of the DOS Diocesan Council here in preparation for the meetings of the Assembly to begin on Thursday here.
The Council approved for presentation to the Assembly several changes to the DOS Uniform Parish Bylaws
and three financial resolutions
. Additionally, the Council passed the proposed 2010 DOS Budget Option 2
which includes the elimination of the OCA Assessment starting next year. The DOS will pay the OCA Assessment from Tithes given to the DOS from parishes. In return, the diocese is asking for a “real tithe” from parish income, reducing the number of restricted funds that presently may not be tithed to the diocese.
If passed, the proposal will return the DOS to its original funding obligations first established in 1978 but abandoned in the early 1980’s when the OCA Assessment took too much of the DOS budget to maintain diocesan work. At that time, the OCA Assessment was “passed on” via the “head tax” to be collected on the parish level.
The Diocesan Council also passed a motion to establish an Episcopal Search Committee
to include the Diocesan deans and the Diocesan chancellor. His Beatitude cautioned that such a committee "must act circumspectly and prayerfully in discerning God's" while vetting potential candidates that will be presented to a future regular or special DOS Assembly. His Beatitude went on to say that such a process is "not a popularity contest."
Archpriest Philip Reese and Mr. Gary Popovich, outgoing members of the Metropolitan Council, reported to the Diocesan Council on their work. Both played key roles in assisting the Church Administration in New York navigate the past few challenging years. The Metropolitan sincerely thanked Fr. Reese and Mr. Popovich for their sacrificial efforts.
After Vespers, served at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, His Beatitude met with diocesan young adults before addressing the DOS clergy in a lively question and answer period including the search for the next hierarch for the diocese.
On Wednesday, the Assembly will continue with the Divine Liturgy in the morning and workshops in the afternoon. On Wednesday evening, His Beatitude will present his Keynote Address, which is open to the public. All meetings and liturgical services are being held at Annunciation Cathedral.
Metropolitan Meets with Young Adults
Metropolitan Meets with Young Adults
Metropolitan Meets with Clergy
Metropolitan Meets with Clergy
His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah arrived in Atlanta yesterday for the 2009 DOS Assembly here. The Diocesan Council meets today to make final recommendations on the diocesan budget, financial resolutions and the proposed changes to the DOS Bylaws.
On Tuesday evening, His Beatitude will meet with those young adults attending the Assembly and then with diocesan clergy. On Wednesday the Divine Liturgy will be celebrated followed by a brunch that His Beatitude will host for the teens attending the Assembly. Wednesday afternoon will feature the Hearing on the DOS Budget and Parish Financial Development and three additional Workshops for delegates and observers. On Wednesday evening His Beatitude will offer the Assembly Keynote Address which will be open to the public.
On Thursday, the business sessions of the Assembly will take place with two Plenary Sessions. The Assembly banquet will be on Thursday evening.
In addition to the Divine Liturgy on Wednesday, Vespers will be celebrated on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, Matins on Thursday morning, and the Divine Liturgy at St. John the Wonderworker Church in Atlanta to conclude the Assembly on Friday morning.Check the DOS website for updates throughout the week.
(Dallas) His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah arrived in Dallas yesterday in preparation for DOS Chancery staff meetings, consults with Archbishop Dmitri and to preside at the summer feast of St. Seraphim of Sarov at the Cathedral. His Beatitude will serve Sunday’s Divine Liturgy with Archbishop Dmitri, retired Ruling Bishop of the Diocese of the South. Upon his arrival, His Beatitude stated that it was “good to be back home in Dallas.”
The Metropolitan on Friday met with his DOS Chancellor, Archpriest Joseph Fester, who briefed His Beatitude on diocesan matters and items related to next week’s DOS Assembly in Atlanta. The Metropolitan also met with Priest Seraphim Hipsh, dean of the Dallas deanery.
Fr. Fester detailed Assembly agenda items with His Beatitude, including proposed revisions to the DOS Uniform Parish Bylaws, DOS Financial Resolutions and the appointment of an Episcopal Search Committee to be proposed by His Beatitude. The proposed search committee will include DOS deans and members of the DOS Chancery staff. Input will also be open to all members of the DOS.
His Beatitude will convene a meeting of the DOS Diocesan Council, this coming Tuesday. The Council will discuss and make final recommendations on the DOS 2010 budget, Bylaw amendments and the proposed presidium for the Assembly. New members to the Diocesan Council will be elected at the Assembly. The Diocesan Council includes, but is not limited to the respective DOS deanery Deans, a respective lay representative from deanery and any additional members that may be proposed by the ruling hierarch or the Assembly. Additional members of the Diocesan council include the Chancellor, Treasurer and as ex-officio representatives, members of the Metropolitan Council.
Two new members from the DOS to the Metropolitan Council will be elected this Assembly with current MC members, Archpriest Philip Reese and Gary Popovich, completing their service, with the thanks of His Beatitude for their MC efforts.
A record number of Assembly registrants have been recorded this year with only 4 assigned DOS clergy unable to attend. This year, two clerics originally from the DOS, Priest Peter Robichau, a seminarian at St Vladimir’s Seminary, and Priest Theophan Buck a seminarian at St. Tikhon’s Seminary, both in their final year of study this Fall will be Assembly participants. Fr. Robichau and his family are spending the summer in a pastoral internship at St. Basil Mission in Wilmington, NC. Fr. Peter is also writing his SVS senior thesis on the “History of the Diocese of the South” and earlier this summer he spent time in Dallas conducting first-person interviews with Archbishop Dmitri.
At the Assembly Hierarchical Liturgy next Wednesday, His Beatitude will receive into the ranks of the clergy of the Orthodox Church in America, a deacon from the Byzantine Catholic Church and also tonsure several readers and subdeacons for service in their respective parishes and missions in the Diocese.
This year's Assembly, hosted by the parishes of the Atlanta deanery, will be held at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Atlanta. Please refer to the DOS website next week for Assembly updates.
(Dallas) The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America on July 1, 2009 reestablished the Diocese of New York and New Jersey separating it from the Diocese of Washington DC. The Synod declared the New York and New Jersey diocese vacant and named His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah the Locum Tenens of the diocese. It is anticipated that an election for a diocesan bishop of New York and New Jersey will take place later this year.
The commemoration of His Beatitude in parishes of the Diocese of the South will thus change to "His Beatitude, The Most Blessed Jonah, Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada, Locum Tenens of the Diocese of the South."
His Beatitude will be present for the upcoming Diocese of the South Assembly to be held in Atlanta, GA., July 21-24.
To download the new musical setting of the Many Years, please follow links below.
Many Years Metropolitan Jonah
Many Years. Metropolitan Jonah when Archbishop Dmitri present.
It was more than I could have asked for or imagined, I could never have planned it. After visiting one of the world’s largest tall ships, the Russian Kreuzenstern—docked in Charleston harbor with 200 Russian sailors-in-training—one of my native Russian parishioner invited me to come aboard to meet the Captain, the first mate, and the Chaplain. Having returned just the day before from leading a youth retreat for high-schoolers at a local monastery, I was reluctant because of my exhaustion, but I thought to myself, “this is a once in a lifetime moment, I can rest later.” Thank God for the extra bit of strength and foresight. I could not ever have imagined what pure joy would follow.
On no notice, I announced to my parishioners after liturgy on Sunday morning that we had this invitation, thinking one or two might come. Twenty of us, including two Anglican friends of our parish, showed up, and were welcomed aboard with red-carpet treatment. As we stepped aboard, we were greeted by the joy-filled Fr Alexandr (note to editor: spelling is Russian). Fr Alexandr and I exchanged our traditional three-fold kiss (with reference to St. Paul’s, “Greet one another with a holy kiss.”), and then we were all introduced to the First Mate, Michael. In his crisp white uniform, he led us below deck, through the officer’s quarters to the Kreuzenstern’s museum, which contains trophies from many regattas, as well as treasures and gifts from her several circumnavigations of the globe.
Thereafter, First Mate Michael took us up to the ship’s chapel, where Fr. Alexandr was awaiting us. Bear in mind that I speak very little Russian and Fr Alexandr very little English. But with the help of some bilingual friends we were able to make our preparations: to serve a service of thanksgiving with the blessing of water here aboard the ship. Though the language was unfamiliar, the service is identical to what we serve (we received it from the Orthodox Church in Russia beginning in 1794 in Alaska), and the musical settings are also the same as what we sing. So, our common prayer, and our shared unified faith held us together though we were not able to communicate very well in a mutually-understandable language.
We were packed like sardines into the chapel, which, with one of the hottest days of the year, was like an inferno—we were all dripping with sweat. But the very palpable love which we share for one another transfigured the oven-like room into the warmth of faith, full of the Holy Spirit.
At the end of the service, as is our custom, we blessed one another and all those present with the holy water by use of a large, floppy horse-hair brush. As I have been taught, I took the brush, soaked it in holy water, and made a gentle cross on my own forehead. Fr Alexandr has been trained in a much more lively way, and so he filled the brush dripping full and sloshed the holy water upon me and the other pilgrims with remarkable fervor and joy.
Following the blessing, we exchanged gifts. On behalf of our parish, I gave Fr Alexandr an icon of St Tikhon, the one-time Patriarch of Moscow (the present Patriarch, Kirill, is Fr Alexandr’s bishop, and ordained him) and called also “Enlightener of North America” for his missionary efforts in bringing Orthodox Christianity to this continent. If it weren’t for St Tikhon, for example, there would be no Holy Ascension in Mt Pleasant. Fr Alexandr was moved to tears—he has a special affinity for St Tikhon, as Fr Alexandr is in charge of missionary work in his diocese.
I also gave Fr Alexandr icon cards and the myrrh-tears from an icon of St Nicholas (patron of sea-farers) which miraculously wept in Michigan a few years ago. This oil is used, according to the scriptures, to anoint the sick. These holy items he could use to serve the few hundred souls he serves on board the Kruezenstern. On a lighter note, and since Russia is so well-known for its Vodka, we gave Fr Alexandr and the Captain two bottles of our own local Firefly Vodka. This pleased them tremendously!
Fr Alexandr generously gave us a DVD on the rebirth of the Orthodox Church in Russia, following the fall of communism. One thousand years of Christian Orthodoxy, nearly squashed by the communists, is being restored at a miraculous rate. He also shared with us a book he has co-authored—a catechism for Russians and inquirers “Most Frequently Asked Questions, and Their Answers”. Since our parish’s mission includes not only reaching out to all local southerners, but also to the global community resident in Charleston, this book is very timely and helpful to the Russian folks who attend our parish.
It wouldn’t have been a trip to the Lowcountry without wings and pulled pork, so we took Fr Alexandr to Sticky Fingers. He approached the wings with some skepticism, but finished with gusto, and then he was well warmed-up for the barbecue. A piece of pecan pie fully indoctrinated him.
The greatest gift, though, was celebrating the liturgy together on Monday morning, commemorating the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul. Our 2000 years of common liturgical prayer and our shared 1000 year tradition of music was the glue which held our prayers together—I serving in English and Fr Alexandr in Slavonic, an ancient form of Russian. Our unity of faith was palpable to everyone present. We finished the morning, as is our local custom on feast days, with a Bodacious Bagel and strong black coffee. From the parking lot we offered our good-byes, encouraged by this blip in time when two worlds collided—but two worlds which are held together by a common faith. A world where groups of strangers who don’t even speak the same language can embrace each other in Christian love, as brothers and sisters. Glory to God!
Fr John Parker is priest-in-charge of Holy Ascension Orthodox Church in Mt Pleasant. To read more visit www.ocacharleston.org
. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah addressed the forming convention of the Anglican Church in North America
a grouping of 100,000 Anglicans who have separated from the Anglican communion over ecclesial and doctrinal issues of the Anglican Church.
The presentation by His Beatitude was interrupted on several occasions with standing ovations. Although there are major issues that still make it impossible for any intercommunion to take place between the OCA and the ANCA at this time, the Metropolitan called from a resumption of an Orthodox/Anglican dialogue first started here a hundred years ago when St Tikhon of the Russian Orthodox Mission in North America began the dialogue with Bishop Grafton of Fond du Lac. Such a dialogue ended in the 1970’s when the ordination of women began in the Anglican church. "I come to you as the successor of Tikhon... with the same openness, the same invitation, the same love and desire to unify Anglicanism and Orthodoxy."
Such a reality will not be easy but His Beatitude was direct to the convention when he laid out what it would take: “ Full affirmation of the orthodox Faith of the Apostles and Church Fathers, the seven Ecumenical Councils, the Nicene Creed in its original form (without the filioque clause inserted at the Council of Toledo, 589 A.D.), all seven Sacraments and a rejection of 'the heresies of the Reformation. " Additionally he stated that the ordination of women must end.
The ordination of women is one of several issues which the ANCA must resolve yet the candor of His Beatitude’s address was received with genuine enthusiasm. On issues less controversial, to Orthodox and the ANCA, His Beatitude called for a genuine renunciation of sin and immorality, "We must eliminate any shred of immorality in our lives," not least because sin "kills and maims the soul," likewise immorality, which destroys the soul and "demoralizes our culture." Drawing on the reality of Orthodoxy having confronted militant Islam for centuries, the Metropolitan gave a stern warning that when a culture is demoralized by immorality it "cannot stand up to the strict asceticism of Islam."
On the issue of homosexuality His Beatitude was straight forward in saying that homosexuality "destroys authentic masculinity and authentic womanhood." Again, "gay ideology is neither from nurture or nature...we cannot accept their lifestyle or validate their unions." These are not something healthy, but "something to be healed".
On abortion, His Beatitude was again direct on the Church’s teaching and the spiritual damage caused, "Abortion not only rips out the soul of the fetus from the body of a woman, it rips out her own soul also.” When the Metropolitan urged that all “must stand together in an absolute condemnation of abortion" his words were met with a standing ovation.
His Beatitude spoke on the centrality of Orthodox worship as a means to a "unity of vision, unity of life, unity of being in Jesus Christ" in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Metropolitan invited those gathered to understand that Orthodox worship “ not simply human, it is divine” giving the faithful entry into the liturgy of the Angels and Saints as revealed to Moses, Ezekiel and St. John, being a true participation on earth in the worship of heaven. The same meeting of heaven and earth is to be found in the Church and to be believed in as we believe in Jesus Himself.
According to Michael Heidt writing for Virtueonline he concluded that His Beatitude called the “ ACNA to embrace Christ in His totality - in His Church and Sacraments, in the Faith and Morals handed down by Jesus Himself to the faithful throughout the ages, and in that true repentance which is nothing other than complete surrender of self to the mind and Person of Our Lord. With such a spirit in place, his vision of unity between loyal Anglicans and Orthodoxy may be realized.”
In a related development, at the conclusion of the Metropolitan's address Father Chad Hatfied, chancellor of St Vladimir’s Seminary announced a cooperative effort with Nashotah House, an orthodox Anglican seminary, to “help further ecumenical relationships and the “new dialogue between the Orthodox Church in North America and the new Anglican province in North America.”
(This report was written with material from Michael Heidt of Virtueonline and material from the ANCA website and press releases
His Beatitude's address to the Anglican Church of North America will be broadcasts live on the Internet from the website of the ACNA Convention site
. Metropolitan Jonah's address is scheduled to begin at 10:30AM Central Time on Wednesday, June 24.
His Beatitude was present today in Bedford, TX a nearby suburb of Dallas today to listen to the address of Pastor Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church. Pastor Warren delivered the invocation at President Obama's inauguration.
The Metropolitan will depart Dallas on Wednesday for New York to prepare for the consecration of Archimandrite Melchizedek (Pleska) as the ruling bishop of the OCA Diocese of Western Pennsylvania on Saturday. His Beatitude is scheduled to return to Dallas in mid-July to celebrate the Feast of St. Seraphim here and prepare for the DOS Assembly in Atlanta July 21-24.
(Dallas, TX) His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, Locum Tenens of the Diocese of the South will be among those addressing the Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America scheduled for June 22-24 at St Vincent Cathedral in nearby Bedford, Texas. His Beatitude will speak on Wednesday, June 24 to the assembled convention.
The Anglican Church in North America’s recent press release states that it is setting out to “heal many years of division and unite Anglicans committed to Scripture and traditional Anglican beliefs.” According to the ACNA preamble they are “grieved by the current state of brokenness within the Anglican Communion (Anglicans’ worldwide church) prompted by those who have embraced erroneous teaching and who have rejected a repeated call to repentance.”
According to The Anglican Church in North America website, the Church
“unites some 700 Anglican parishes in 12 Anglican jurisdictions in
North America into a single church. Jurisdictions coming together in
the Anglican Church in North America are the Anglican Coalition in
Canada, the dioceses of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy and San Joaquin
(of the Anglican Communion Network), the Anglican Mission in the
Americas, the Anglican Network in Canada, the Convocation of Anglicans
in North America, the Reformed Episcopal Church, and the missionary
initiatives of Kenya, Uganda, and South America’s Southern Cone.
Additionally, the American Anglican Council and Forward in Faith North
America are founding organizations.”
In introducing His Beatitude to its faithful, the Anglican Church in North America recently reported that, “His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, the Archbishop of Washington and New York and the Metropolitan of All America and Canada for the Orthodox Church in America [OCA], will speak on June 24. Elected primate of the OCA in November of 2008, Metropolitan Jonah was tonsured a monk in the late 1980's at St. Tikhon’s Monastery in South Canaan, Pennsylvania after spending time at the Valaam Monastery in Russia. An Episcopalian before joining the Orthodox Church in 1978, he attended St. Vladimir's Seminary, graduating with a Master of Divinity degree in 1985 and a Master of Theology in Dogmatics in 1988.”
The ANCA press release went on to say that, “Before his consecration to the episcopacy in October 2008, as a priestmonk Metropolitan Jonah served as abbot of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco Monastery, now located in Manton, California. Metropolitan Jonah's writings on Eastern Orthodox spirituality have been published in numerous Orthodox Christian publications, including "Divine Ascent," the journal of the Monastery of St. John. He is well known for his insights, offered both in public presentations and through private spiritual dialogue, on the convergence of the ancient Christian ascetic practices and the challenges of living an authentic Christian life in the modern world.”
In addition to His Beatitude, Pastor Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life and pastor of Saddleback Church, will speak on June 23. The Rev. Todd Hunter will also address the organizing Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America. Reverend Hunter is the Director of West Coast Church Planting for The Anglican Mission in the Americas.
The ANCA is not without its problematic elements for Orthodox Christians in that some members of the ANCA support the ordination of women to their priesthood. Nonetheless, in the spirit of preaching the “truth in love,” His Beatitude will speak to the ANCA and offer a “good defense of the faith” without compromise.
While in North Texas His Beatitude will also meet with the Chancery staff and clergy of the Diocese of the South to keep abreast and direct the life of the DOS in his role as Locum Tenens as the DOS prepares for the upcoming 2009 DOS Assembly scheduled for Atlanta, GA, July, 21-24, 2009.
Address Given At St. Vladimir's Seminary - Saturday, June 20, 2009
The Great Council of 1917, and the revival of the Russian Orthodox Church that it began, are aspects of the de-imperialization of the Orthodox Church and its canonical structures. This began a process of the transcendence of the imperial domination of Orthodox ecclesiology, which reigned from Constantine and Theodosius to Nicholas II, and the beginning of the adaptation to a new era in which the Church is independent of the state. This was the beginning of a new conciliar vision, which has developed significantly over the past century. What it did is to set up a new set of structural and canonical interpretations, demanding a worldwide rethinking of Orthodox ecclesiology.
The fruit of this vision, partially, is the Orthodox Church in America, and her autocephaly. The conflict with the old ecclesiological and canonical interpretations forms the context for the issues surrounding the acceptance or rejection of the autocephaly. This conflict is, however, also the fruitful ground for a creative resolution to the issues confronting the OCA, and the Orthodox Church throughout the world.
The Orthodox Church in Russia began preparing for a great Council over a hundred years ago, particularly in 1905. In the final decades of the Russian Empire there was a tremendous intellectual ferment among the clergy and intelligentsia of the Russian Church that not only sought a way out of the morass of the Oberprokurator system suppressing the Patriarchate, established by Peter the First, but that was also very much in dialog with the social, political and cultural developments of the time. The Russian Empire not only had tens of thousands of churches, and over a thousand monasteries, in its own territory, using Slavonic and a “standard” practice also taught in the seminaries and academies; there were dozens of missions to tribes of many languages, as well as extensive foreign missions, including that to North America. Each of these served in the local language, generated liturgical and catechetical material in these languages, and recruited and trained local indigenous clergy.
While most of the other local Orthodox Churches remained under Islamic domination and persecution, which virtually eliminated Orthodox theological education and suppressed intellectual life in the Middle East, the Russian Church on the other hand had tremendous freedom to begin to confront the new era. There were the issues of corruption in the schools and monasteries, and the role of the State in interfering with ecclesiastical appointments. There was the confrontation with Western ideas: nihilism, atheism, Marxism and communism, as well as Roman Catholicism. On the other hand, other ideas and trends such as Slavophile idealism (or should one say, romanticism) played a significant role in the development of Russian ecclesiological thought, with the concept of sobornost. A fundamental underlying issue was how the Church would live and structure itself without an overwhelming imperial context, particularly in the American Mission.
At the beginning of preparation for the council in 1905, there were few who expected the complete collapse of the imperial system, much less the persecution of the Church which followed. As the imperial system weakened, the theologians became more focused on the Church as the community of the faithful, as opposed to a strict hierarchical structure of authority paralleling and operating in symphony with the secular authorities. The bishops were asked to provide their ideas for the restructuring of the Russian Orthodox Church.
At the core of this process was St Tikhon, both as a young bishop in America between 1898 and 1907, and later as Patriarch of Moscow. He espoused this vision of a transformation of the Church into a number of new metropolitanates. He also endorsed the idea of the transformation of the American diocese into an Exarchate, with a level of conciliar participation of the clergy and laity, and reflecting the diversity of the national churches present in America. St Tikhon writes:
As to the see of North America it ought to be made into an exarchate of the Russian Church. The fact is that this see is composed not only of different nationalities, but also of different Orthodox Churches, which though one in faith each have their peculiarities in the canonical order, the office ritual and the parish life. These peculiarities are dear to them and altogether tolerable from the general orthodox point of view. This is why we do not consider we have the right to interfere with the national character of the churches in this country and, on the contrary, try to preserve it, giving each a chance to be governed directly by chiefs of the same nationality….In short, it is possible that there will be formed in America an entire exarchate of national Orthodox Churches with their own bishops, whose exarch is to be to the Russian archbishop.
In his own field of work each of these bishops is to be independent, but the affairs which concern the American church in general are to be decided by a general council, presided over by the Russian archbishop. Through him will be preserved the connection of the orthodox church of America with the church of all the Russias and a degree of dependence of the former on the latter. We also must keep in view that, compared with the life in the old country, life in America has its peculiarities, with which the local orthodox church is obliged to count, and that consequently that it ought to be allowed to be more autonomous than other metropolitan districts of Russia… (Archbishop Tikhon, in the Russian American Messenger, pp.68-70, 1905.)
These paragraphs form the basic vision statement for the development of the Church over the next century. In his answer to the Synod regarding his vision for restructuring the Russian Church, St Tikhon further delineates how the North American see would be composed of dioceses, with both a local see and title, and a specific mission to particular ethnic groups: New York for the Russian churches; Alaska for the natives and resident Russians; Brooklyn for the Syrians; Chicago for the Serbians; and an undecided future see for the Greeks.
Equally important in this document are St Tikhon’s words in relation to conciliarity, lay participation:
If laymen take part in the see assemblies they will be something like church conventions customary in America, amongst the Episcopalians for instance. These conventions have general sessions, in which both the laymen and the clergy take part, and also private sessions reserved for the discussion of purely ecclesiastical affairs by the clergy alone. This participation of the lay element would give to the function of church life the character of a council, and also would tend to enliven it. (RAM, p. 75)
The councils and life of the Russian Missionary Diocese in America, and its successors, would embody the themes sketched out in this statement, with full lay and priestly participation on all levels of church life. This is the incarnation of sobornost, conciliarity.
It is in this context, then, that the concept of sobornost, which means both catholicity and conciliarity, became a dominant theme in the rethinking of Orthodox ecclesiology. The unity of vision and life are focused in the whole community of the faithful, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and structured around the Eucharist. From this developed, later in the 20th Century, Eucharistic ecclesiology and the ecclesiology of the Local Church. This theological movement was fueled by a patristic revival, which began in the mid-19th century with the translation of many texts of the Fathers into Slavonic and Russian, and a Eucharistic revival championed by such figures as St John of Kronstadt. No longer were the lay faithful simply passive subjects to be ministered to, but active participants in the life of the Church. Thus, the stage was set for the inclusion of the clergy and laity in the decision-making processes of the Church, which are of the essence of sobornost, a true conciliar process. This became the foundation for the Great Council of 1917, and the development of new institutions incorporating lay and clerical participation, previously reserved to bishops and imperial officials. While some of these institutional reforms were not able to be implemented in Russia due to the Revolution, they were implemented in the Russian mission in America—which later became the autocephalous Orthodox Church in America.
The missionary vision of the Church grew at the same time as the development of the ideas of sobornost and the ecclesial integrity of the local Church. While some of the internal missions in Russia retained a political component—to integrate people into the empire by forming them in an Orthodox identity—some of the missions had no political content, or lost it along the way. Of course, there were political implications. The stated reason for sending Fr Junipero Serra, in 1775, to establish the Spanish missions in California was to keep the Russians from taking California. When the Russians established their farthest outpost in what is now Sonoma County, Northern California in 1812, and began their mission work among the native peoples there, they did not so much seek to integrate the natives into a Russian political identity, as simply to convey the Orthodox Faith. St Innocent later visited the colony in 1842, and subsequently the Spanish missions in the Bay Area. Soon after this, any political content was lost.
The missionary vision was simply to incarnate the Gospel of Jesus Christ by bringing people into the Orthodox Church. Such was the mission to America, especially after the sale of Alaska. The vision of St Innocent for the establishment of the diocesan headquarters in San Francisco at the time of the sale of Alaska focused on converting Anglo-Americans to Orthodoxy through serving and teaching in English. The initial Valaam Mission in Kodiak had the same task: to make Americans (this time Native Alaskans with their respective languages) Orthodox Christians, and establish the Orthodox Church in this land with a native clergy.
The Growth of the American Mission
Thirty years later, the new bishop assigned to America, Tikhon, was faced with a different situation. The Church had begun to grow decisively in the continental US and Canada. It continued to change dramatically over the course of the next decades. The number of the parishes and their affiliations grew and multiplied with each successive wave of immigration. The effects of the collapse of Russian imperial support (and that of the Russian Missionary Society), following the Revolution, were financially devastating. With this period came a very different mission for the Church in America: to deal with the immigrant communities and their particular needs. The Mission in America lost its missionary focus, and instead was engulfed with immigrants, the churches acting as reference points for the maintenance of cultural identity and solidarity. Each group had its own particular needs, its own language, its own customs and traditions. St Tikhon wrote of the need to have particular ministries to each group, respecting their cultures, within the unified archdiocese. While this remained possible, the political and economic realities ended up with each group withdrawing into itself, and the vision of unity—which had been realized to a large degree—was lost with the missionary imperative. Even the Russian Mission itself lost contact with its Mother Church, which was descending into the abyss of grievous persecution and martyrdom. In 1924, the American Mission proclaimed itself temporarily autonomous, and in canonical contact with the Synod of Russian Orthodox Bishops Abroad.
We won’t go over the sordid details of the intervening decades: schisms, the Living Church, lawsuits, fights, and all manner of division. It was not until the end of the 1950’s that the Metropolia began to regain its missionary vision, and to move beyond the needs of reinforcing immigrant identity. It began to come to maturity as a local church, no longer looking outside of itself for its identity. It began a new phase in its existence, as it developed into an authentically local Church, embodying many of the elements of the reforms of the Council of 1917, and yet incarnating them in a uniquely American way. It began to fulfill the vision of St Tikhon, as a foundation for the unity of multiple ethnic churches within a single synod of bishops, in the context of the mission to bring Americans to Orthodoxy.
Beginning in the 1950’s, with the renewed contacts with the Russian Mother Church, the Metropolia began to come to a new self-consciousness, under the influence of Fr Georges Florovsky, Fr Alexander Schmemann and Fr John Meyendorff, and others, from St Serge in Paris transplanted to St Vladimir’s in New York. They were the main fathers of the patristic revival, and the proponents of Eucharistic ecclesiology, and the ecclesiology of the Local Church, which came to dominate Orthodox dialog and ecumenical discourse. The latter two were also among the main architects of the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in America. Beginning their contacts with the Russian Church at ecumenical gatherings, they worked for years to prepare for a rapproachment with the Mother Church. This culminated in 1970 with the granting of autocephaly.
The new OCA represented the maturation of the Mission into a Local Church. In the newly created Orthodox Church in America, all the themes of the past came together: a united multi-ethnic church with a single synod of bishops; a church focused on being the local Church for North America, without a formal reliance on any Mother Church; a missionary church, dedicated to becoming the Presence of the One Holy Catholic Church in America, for all people, races and nationalities; it had no national identity save American, while not repressing any ethnic identities. The new OCA existed outside any imperial context, free from government interference and support, More than this, the OCA embodied the principle of conciliarity, of clerical and lay participation in decision making, with the institutions of the All American Council and Metropolitan and Diocesan Councils, outlined in the new Statute.
Several different motivations are stated by the Russian hierarchy in the Tomos for granting the autocephaly: for the welfare of the whole Orthodox Church; to try to help remedy the situation of ecclesiastical pluralism that existed, and to further ecclesiastical unity; and to bring the former Russian Mission, then the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Metropolia, into normal relations with itself as Mother Church. The Tomos recognized “as good for Orthodoxy in America the independent and self-sustaining existence of said Metropolitanate, which now represents a mature ecclesiastical organism possessing all that is necessary for successful further growth.”
It can be asserted that the Tomos also recognized that the autocephaly was not “final,” but in some way relative. I quote: “The newly established local Orthodox Autocephalous Church in America should abide in brotherly relations with all the Orthodox Churches and their Primates as well as with their bishops, clergy and pious flock who are in America, and who for the time being preserve their de facto existing canonical and jurisdictional dependence on their national Churches and their Primates.” The Tomos does not allow for the full consequences of autocephaly to be proclaimed, that all other churches on the territory of the OCA are thereby uncanonical. Rather, it allows for the preservation of their ties to their mother churches until such time as all can be brought into a new unity, a single Church for America.
Thus, the OCA’s charter and vocation is for it to disappear: it is kenotic. Either it is to become the basis for the unity of the rest of the Churches in America; or it must enter into a new organization that will be fully autocephalous. We await this day, eagerly, so that the mission of the Orthodox Church and the proclamation of the Gospel are no longer compromised by the scandal of disunity.
Analysis and a Vision for the Future
I stand before you, gathered here, in great humility, as the ‘least among equals’, the youngest head of the smallest and youngest autocephalous Orthodox Church in the world.
No bishop of the Orthodox Church works alone; each is sustained and aided by a structure, developed over centuries, and implemented in any given place in accordance with the realities of the life which God gives us. This structure has to be capable of existing in a very wide range of different circumstances, as evidenced by the history of the Church. There have been times of plenty and times of famine, times during which political systems have been friendly and supportive, and others when they have been downright hostile and injurious to everything for which the Light of the Gospel eternally shines. As these changes have occurred, the Church has found the need to make laws and rulings, to protect the integrity of the life of Church under all circumstances. These rulings, or Canons, are a treasure-house of experience, which enlivens and enlightens each new situation which the Church, in Her life, faces in every age.
Like every Orthodox bishop, I accept all the Holy Canons, traditions and practices of the Holy Orthodox Church, without reservation, since they are the expression of the life of the Church in any given place. They are not so much THE life of the Church (which is the Proclamation of the Gospel Itself), but rather they create the sacred space within which the life of the Church can flourish. Far from being rigid, legalistic and restricting, the application of the rulings of Holy Canons has, over the centuries, shown them to be capable of allowing for change, and adapting to new situations, whether political, philosophical or geographical. This they do since the Church, constantly and naturally, interprets their meaning and significance to reflect the reality of each age. To restrict their meaning to the reality of long-dead political systems, and lost empires, even those during which the Body of Christ flourished and grew, is to do a great disservice to the power of the Holy Spirit to “effect the change” which is the very essence of our Life in God.
The Canon is embodied in a vast amount of writing ranging from the Holy Scriptures themselves down to the decisions of local councils in our own day. Different Canons reflect the different eras which led to their creation, and together they outline the Church’s experience of the working of God in Her life, throughout the generations. Individual Canons, specific in detail and seen and understood within the of the entire Corpus of Canon Law, lend themselves to the formation of “canonical principles”, more general in detail, which in turn govern our life.
One canonical principle in particular is plainly and singularly vital in the life of the Church and can be stated as follows: the fullness of the Church is present, in its completeness, where a rightfully-appointed Bishop celebrates the Divine Liturgy together with his presbyters, deacons and the rest of the People of God. It is this divinely-given ‘pleroma’, the actual presence of God among His people, which embodies the fullness of the Gospel, and expresses itself, in each nation, as “One”, “Holy” and “Catholic”. To accept anything less is to betray our calling, to ignore the words of Christ, and to rationalize our human weaknesses. This is the principle of the Local Church.
“Local Church” has many implications, in different contexts. Some use it in relation to a diocese, some in relation to a national church; it can also be used in relation to any Eucharistic community such as a parish. What is important for us is that the “local church” is not understood as deriving its legitimacy by reference to a remote point, patriarchate or church, that is the criterion of catholicity. It is the integrity of the Local Church, itself, the bishop and the people of a particular place celebrating the Liturgy-- and its communion with the whole body of surrounding local churches that forms the ultimate criterion of catholicity. The canons protect and help these local churches relate to one another.
In North America there are at least three distinct systems of ecclesiology and canonical interpretation that are incarnate as ecclesiastical bodies.
The first of these is the Russian canonical and ecclesiological tradition, which has led to the basic vision of the conciliar Local Church. This was the context of the foundation of the Russian Mission to Alaska of 1794 and its missionary imperative. The Russian Church, especially under Bishop Tikhon in America, developed a working model of multi-ethnic cooperation and vision of unity, which was renewed and reformed by the Council of 1917. While the Russian Mission in America struggled with the influx of immigrants, and the temptation to remain an ethnic sect, it overcame these and began to realize its identity as an indigenous Orthodox Church for all North Americans, thus coming to actualize the fullness of catholicity. This maturity bore fruit as the autocephaly of the OCA. The mission had become a local church, with all the resources to perpetuate itself and the mission of Orthodoxy, free of any imperial or government entanglements or interference. It embodied and incarnated the conciliar vision of the Church, incorporating laity and clergy into the process of decision making, and thus became a living experiment in the Orthodox world of conciliarity and the de-imperialization of the Church.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate espouses another system of canonicity and an ecclesiological vision, which it extended to North America in the 1920’s with the establishment of the Greek Archdiocese. (There were various parishes here under its jurisdiction, and/or that of Athens, before; but there was no organized Greek hierarchy in the US until the early 1921.)
I will not venture to define their system, other than their conclusions in relation to the OCA. It does not accept the status of the OCA as an autocephalous church, in regards to how they define autocephaly. This is by no means universal, contrary to their claims; nor is their interpretation of the canons universally accepted. The basic argument is that they do not recognize the right of the Russian Church to grant autocephaly to its mission; and they claim universal jurisdiction over the “diaspora.” In fact there are some who would claim that the initial Russian mission was uncanonical in the first place, as it did not come with the authorization and under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. While some accept their claim of jurisdiction over the “diaspora,” other Orthodox Churches do not. Whether right or wrong, it is contended.
The Orthodox Church in America has never been under the jurisdiction of Constantinople, or any other Church but the Russian Church, for the past 215 years, and operates as a fully canonical autocephalous Church under the canonical tradition of her Mother Russian Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church in America is not a church of the “diaspora,” but a local indigenous territorial Church. It is not an ethnic Church; it is not the Russian Church in America, but the mature outgrowth of 175 years of Russian missionary work in America. The Orthodox Church in America fully affirms the primacy of the Patriarch of Constatinople. We reject, however, the canonical interpretations that compromise our canonical tradition.
Through the 1920’s the Russian Mission formed the basis of a united canonical Orthodox Church in America. The Antiochians, Serbs and Albanians, were all originally a part of this united Church, though we certainly admit that many Greek churches were not. Though these groups eventually developed their own hierarchies sent from their mother churches, they did not subordinate themselves to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in this continent. Neither did the Romanians and Bulgarians, most of whom joined the OCA with most of the Albanians.
The groups that split from the Russian Mission, mainly in the ‘20’s and ‘30’s, the Serbians and Antiochians, and the other churches that then established jurisdiction here, can be seen as operating on yet a third model of canonical interpretation and ecclesiology—in which each patriarchate has the right to care for the people of its own nation wherever they may be “in diaspora” regardless of the existence of a territorial canonical church. This nationalist or ethnic model presumably works until the people have been indigenized, in the US usually by the second or third generation, by which time they have lost their “ethnicity.”
With the Russian and EP models, at least the integrity of the local territorial church has some meaning. The third model does not seem to respect that. This is perhaps the greatest canonical problem.
We could debate the merits of the renewed conciliar ecclesiology of the local church, and the system of canonical interpretation of the Russian Tradition, compared to the interpretation of Canon 28 of Chalcedon by Constantinople, but this would miss the fundamental point: they are two very different systems, operating on different sets of presuppositions. Both of these systems evolved in an imperial context. The situation of the 21st Century, with all empires long gone, presents a new context for the life of the Church and new canonical interpretations regarding its organization. This is neither an historical issue, nor ultimately an issue of interpretation, but of presuppositions. We, all Orthodox in North America, seem to be caught between Moscow and Constantinople. And as is often the case when there is an impasse, the resolution resides in a new, third way.
And so what is required, I believe, is for our best theologians to sit down and work out a system that is universally acceptable.
I, as Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, and again please bear in mind the kenotic vocation of the OCA, as well as of my own role, have the unique privilege of leading a Church which is not only thoroughly and indelibly Orthodox, but one which is also thoroughly and indelibly American, a fact that allows us to feel blessed, since America is not one tribe or race, but the voluntary union of all the peoples who have come to live here. In this miracle of symbiosis, there is much to be improved, but there is also much which is right, wholesome and of good report. The spirit of our nation proclaims that there is no such thing as a second-class citizen, that each citizen has the right to participate in government, and that each citizen deserves the right to exercise his or her choices freely, according to law.
It is the task of the Church in this country not only to offer the life of the Orthodox Church to the American people, but also to bring to the practice of Orthodoxy all that is best, all that is valiant, all that is most noble, in our American life.
We are very willing to work with the Ecumenical Patriarchate and other churches to resolve the issue of Orthodox unity in America, and earnestly desire to resolve any obstacles. But we will not surrender our integrity as a local territorial indigenous church. We have a kenotic vocation; but that only opens out into a more fully catholic expression of an indigenous local Church. I earnestly hope that we will all, eventually, come together to fully incarnate the one Body of Christ here in this land.
It is the prerogative and responsibility of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to convene the churches to resolve this issue of unity in the Diaspora, so called. This needs to be done both on the international pan-Orthodox level, as well as within America and each region of the so-called “diaspora.” As long as the mother churches agree to let their extra-territorial dioceses go, then the EP can convene them in each locale, so they can determine their own future, and the structure of their new local churches. Eventually these new churches must be universally recognized as fully autocephalous. But the conciliar principle must be followed: every community must have a voice in its own destiny. Otherwise, the result will be illegitimate, and be rejected. This will lead to only greater division.
Ultimately, but hopefully not eschatologically, the only acceptable resolution is a fully autocephalous united Church in North America, embracing all Orthodox, and freely electing its own hierarchy and, in time, its own patriarch. We stand for conciliarity, the participation of the whole body of the Church in the life and decision making process of the Church. This is very American, but it also resonates with the ideal of sobornost that inspired St Tikhon and the renewal of the Russian Church by the Council of 1917. This is the vision of the OCA, and of many other Orthodox in America. Only for this vision would the OCA surrender its own autocephaly, to joyfully meld into the fulfillment of that vision which was given with the Tomos in 1970.
Many in this continent are not ready to give up their ties to their mother churches. Many of the mother churches are not ready to give up their ties to their American missions. Episcopal assemblies are fine, though we believe their president should be freely elected. But they are not synods, much less autocephalous churches. Perhaps the time has not come to move beyond this point.
Patriarch St Tikhon’s Vision Renewed
If as the OCA we are to renew Patriarch Tikhon’s vision, there is a way to build a provisional unity between all the churches in this country that are ready for it, and yet to maintain a real link with their mother churches. Our canonical situation is unique in history. It demands a creative solution.
One possibility might be to “open” Synod of the OCA to include canonical bishops who preside over American archdioceses of foreign churches, and thus to begin to create a united Synod of Bishops in America. These bishops would be members of the Synod here; they would represent us to their mother churches, and their mother churches to us. A council of Metropolitans of the various archdioceses would be formed, as well as a general synod of all bishops, with the possibility of organic growth. Once all Orthodox come into agreement, it could be restructured as an American Patriarchate, and territorial lines drawn. The presiding bishop would be freely elected, and perhaps rotate.
Whether this is possible or not remains to be seen. But let us explore all possible avenues, with the best minds working at the task together in free and open discussion. Only in this will we be able to move forward in the mission to which God has called us. Let us build a community of love and mutual respect, because the Church can only be incarnated in a spirit of love.
In the meantime, let us strengthen the bonds between ourselves. Local clergy associations are an excellent way to overcome the division of jurisdictions. They provide a context of common activity and build the communion between the churches on a grass roots level. So also it is very valuable for the bishops of each region to come together to serve the Liturgy and discuss common issues.
If certain of our jurisdictions should wish to join together, before all can come into unity, it is a good and wonderful thing that contributes to the unity of the whole. For example, if the OCA and Antiochian Archdiocese were to joing together, or rather to come back to their previous unity, who could dare object?
Most of all, let us keep Jesus Christ, Crucified and Risen, before our eyes, in our minds and our hearts, as we seek not to build up institutions and organizations, but the very Body of Christ, to the glory of God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit.
 The records of the Russian Mission, in the OCA archives, testify to the transformation that was occurring. The Church had grown and expanded significantly from the Alaskan mission, which in 1850 had 9 churches, 37 chapels, 9 priests, 2 deacons and about 15,000 members. By 1905, according to the report of St Tikhon, in his diocese there were 72 churches and 83 “houses of prayer,” 80 church schools with 2000 students, 8 orphanages with 120 children, and 79 brotherhoods. By the time St Tikhon became bishop in San Francisco, in 1898, emigration had set in from multiple quarters, and the movement of the Uniates into Orthodoxy, guided by St Alexis Toth, was in full force. This was in addition to other Orthodox communities, Greek and otherwise, that formed parishes independently.
By 1917, in the Missionary Diocese of New York itself there were 272 parishes: in the USA, 191; in Alaska, 15; in Canada, 65. On the eve of the Revolution there were five bishops: Archbishop Evdokim, Bishop Alexander, Bishop Stephan, Bishop Philip, Bishop Evfimi. The Diocese was divided into five districts and 27 deaneries, in which there were 306 churches and chapels, with 242 priests. Registered membership was approximately 300,000. In addition to the Russian Missionary Diocese itself, there were several missions: the Syro-Arabic mission consisting of 32 churches and up to 30,000 parishioners; the Albanian Mission, consisting of three parishes and 30,000 parishioners; the Serbian Mission, consisting of 36 churches and up to 15,000 parishioners. In all, within the Diocese, were 461 churches and chapels, 309 priests and up to 500,000 parishioners. Beyond this were over 100 independent churches, some aligned with the Churches of Greece or Constantinople. (Statistics from the OCA Archivist, A. Liberovsky).
 Unity of Orthodoxy in America before 1921
17. And we assert that the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in North America has fulfilled all these requirements and conditions in full, in connection with which, her Mother-Church, the Patriarchate of Moscow, granted this Holy Church Autocephaly, which act was expressed in the Patriarchal and Synodal Tomos of 10 April, 1970. The right of the Holy Council of the Patriarchate of Moscow to perform the above-mentioned act, rests on the undisputed fact that the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of North America is the Child and Branch of the Moscow Patriarchate. And, though the missionary and enlightening work of the Holy Russian Church in North America is strangely evaluated in Your Holiness' Letter (in particular, to our amazement, it is considered as propaganda and proselytism, in reference to the pastoral care for the Slavs, former Uniates, who returned to Orthodoxy), the unalterable fact remains that, until the arbitrary establishment by the throne of Constantinople of its own archdiocese in North America in 1921, an act which we have already mentioned in our last letter to Your Holiness, and which was in absolute violation of the Sacred Canons (Ap. 34, Carth. 131, Fourth Ecumenical Council 17, Sixth Ecumenical Council 25), strict canonical order was followed on this continent under the hierarchical leadership of the Church of Russia. This order was challenged by no one, and was recognized by all the Local Orthodox Churches. including the Church of Constantinople. (LETTER OF METROPOLITAN PIMEN to PATRIARCH ATHENAGORAS August 11, 1970 No. 1505).
The OCA website announced that the three-day Conference, beginning today and hosted by St. Vladimir's Seminary on "The Future of Orthodoxy in North America" will be broadcast on live video feed. Ancient Faith Radio will also provide audio coverage of this important event.To view the webcast click here
The Local Committee for the 2009 DOS Assembly continue to work diligently to make this year’s Assembly memorable.
His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, Locum Tenens of the Diocese of the South will preside at the Assembly. The Diocesan Council will meet on Tuesday, July 21 from 1:00 to 5:00PM. Vespers will be celebrated at 5:00PM on Tuesday. Tuesday will conclude after dinner with His Beatitude meeting with the DOS Young Adults (19-24) and then with DOS Clergy.
Wednesday, July 22 will begin with the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. After Liturgy His Beatitude will meet with DOS teens 13-19, for Brunch. Parish Development Workshops will be conducted on Wednesday afternoon from 1:00-3:00PM. One of the workshops will be a Budget Hearing where anyone interested in a detailed presentation of the 2010 DOS Budget can participate. The other two workshops are being finalized. Each workshop will last 50 minutes so participants will have a chance to participate in 2 of the 3 workshops.
A key part of this year’s Assembly is the Young Adult program featuring a Bible Bowl and an Oratorical Contest. Parishes are encouraged to send teams to the Assembly. More details can be found here.
After Vespers and dinner on Wednesday, His Beatitude will give the Keynote Address to the Assembly. This Address will also be open to the public.
Thursday will begin with Matins and after breakfast the DOS Assembly Plenary Sessions will begin. In between the morning and afternoon Plenary Sessions, His Beatitude will have lunch with the DOS Clergy wives. Vespers will begin at 4:30PM and the Grand Banquet will begin at 7:00PM.
The Assembly will conclude on Friday morning with the Divine Liturgy being celebrated at St John the Wonderworker Church in downtown Atlanta.
All Assembly services and meetings (except for the Friday Liturgy at St. John’s) will be held at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Atlanta. The host hotel is the Marriott Century Hotel.
For more Assembly information, hotel and Assembly registration information, please click here.
(Dallas, TX) All Saints Mission Station in Victoria, Texas,
hopes soon to occupy their new temple. The structure is located on the north side of Victoria on US Highway 87, the main route from Victoria to San Antonio.
The mission is allowing the builder to procede with construction at a slower pace than normal, sending out crews to the job only when they are not needed for his other projects. In return, however, the contractor is charging considerably less than “market rate” for the work.
The mission has received considerable financial help from members and parishes of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Denver, with the blessing of His Eminence, Archbishop Isaiah, an excellent example of inter-jurisdictional cooperation in spreading the truth of the Orthodox Faith in south Texas.
The mission station is served by Archpriest Dimitri Cozby. Senior warden is Dr George T. Boozalis.
Holy Synod in Dallas to Honor Archbishop Dmitri
(Dallas, TX) His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, Locum Tenens of the Diocese of the South will meet with members of the DOS Diocesan Council today at St Seraphim Cathedral. The day will begin with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy for the Feast of Sts Cyril and Methodius followed by the Council meeting.
The DOS Diocesan Council is composed of one clergy (the dean) and one lay represenative from each of the DOS deaneries. Also on the Diocesan council are the DOS Chancellor and Treasurer. His Beatitude will conduct the meeting.
On Monday evening and Tuesday His Beatitude will lead a meeting of the Holy Synod of Bishops of The Orthodox Church in America who are traveling to Dallas to honor retired Archbishop Dmitri on Tuesday evening and Wednesday.
St George Youth Greet Archbishop Dmitri
St George Youth Greet Archbishop Dmitri
His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri travelled to the Rio Grande Valley this weekend to honor a commitment he made prior to his retirement to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of St. George the Great-martyr Church
in Pharr, TX. Accompanying His Eminence was Archpriest Joseph Fester, Chancellor of the Diocese of the South and Mr. Milos Konjevich, Treasurer and Administrator of the Diocese of the South.
Priest Antonio Perdomo led the faithful of St George’s in greeting His Eminence on Saturday before Great Vespers. After Vespers, Archbishop Dmitri recounted the early days of St George’s and how he, during one visit while the current church was being built, “swung a hammer and helped build this temple.”
Later on Saturday, a festive Anniversary banquet was held at which Archpriest John Reeves, the founding pastor of St. George’s sent a beautiful letter of congratulations and encouragment to the faithful to remain steadfast in the preaching and sharing of the Gospel of the Risen Lord to all those in the Valley! Other speakers including Father Perdomo and founding members of the parish thanked God for the opportunity to plant the parish in Pharr.
The weekend also afforded the community to kick off their efforts to expand their facilities by building a new hall. Such an expansion is much needed to help offer more fellowship, educational and outreach space. St George’s Food Pantry, each month provides food to hundreds of people.
The weekend concluded with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy on Sunday with a large crowd of faithful participating. His Eminence commented after the Liturgy at the fellowship meal that St George’s membership is truly a representation of the population in the Rio Grande Valley, Hispanics, Arabic, Greek, Serbian, Romanian, Russian and Ukrainian, and Americans. “All Orthodox, and Texan!’”
Although this may be one of the last parish visitation trips His Eminence will make, it was fitting that it was to St George’s which was one of the first new missions planted in the DOS, 30 years ago!
For a complete photo essay of the weekend by photographer Rosamarie
Perdomo, click here.
) The Monastery Friends, the support group for the new Women's Monastery being established in North Texas and dedicated to The Nativity of Our Lord,
is sponsoring a retreat for women on Saturday, May 9 at the Greek Isles Restaurant from 1:00 to 3:00pm.
The retreat will be led by Kathryn Saclarides a noted Orthodox missionary. Ms. Saclarides will speak on the topic - "My Anointed Ones: Our Calling to Service in the Church."
Kathryn Saclarides has done missionary work around the world through different Orthodox organizations. She will give a presentation on living the Christian life beginning with prayer and continuing in active service by ministering to those around us in need. A question and answer period will follow Ms. Saclarides presentation.The Greek Isles restaurant
located at 3309 N. Central Expressway - Suite 370 Plano, TX 75023, will offer lunch after the retreat presentation. A donation of $25.00 for the retreat and lunch will also help support the monastery. Seating is limited so register early. For more information, email Monastery Friends at firstname.lastname@example.org
DOS HOLY WEEK AND PASCHA
Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!
To the Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful
of The Orthodox Church in America
Dearly Beloved in Christ,
Beloved, let us greet one another with Paschal Joy, and exchange the kiss of peace.
Let us feast soberly, that our joy may be full. Let us not stuff ourselves to satiety with feasting, nor indulge our passions to insensibility. Most of all, let us not give ourselves over to the darkness of the fallen world from which we have sought to purify ourselves, lack of forgiveness, anger and judgment, bitterness and hatred.
Rather, let us allow our old selves to remain crucified and buried, that the New Man may live, resurrected in and with Christ. Let us live according to the Kingdom, in communion with the Holy Spirit, so that we may be renewed by the Resurrection.
Our Pascha is not simply the beautiful services and the good food. It is not just family and Easter bunnies. It is not just the fellowship and familiar old customs.
Pascha is the dawn of the Age to Come, the Kingdom of God radiating into our souls and minds and hearts. Pascha is the experience of salvation itself, the foretaste of the Messianic Banquet, and the transformation of our lives. In Pascha we behold Christ, Risen from the dead, the revelation of the Second Coming.
We have gone with Christ to His Passion, but have we been crucified with Him?
We have held vigil at His Tomb, but were we asleep, and missed Him? Did our minds betray us and we doubt His Resurrection?
Let the fruit of our Lenten efforts be the enlightenment of our minds and the renewal of our hearts that our repentance not be in vain.
Let us sing with joy together with the Angels and Archangels, and all creation which has groaned awaiting the revelation of the Son of Man. With all creation, the living and dead, the spiritual and material, and with all the saints, let us cry:
Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!
Христос Воскресе из мертвых, смертию смерть поправ, и сущим во гробех живот даровав!
Χριστος ανεστη εκ νεκρων, θανατο θανατον πατησας και της εν τοις μνημασι ζωην χαρισαμενος.
With love and joy in the Risen Christ,
Archbishop of Washington and New York
Metropolitan of All America and Canada
Locum Tenens of the Diocese of the South
Great and Holy Thursday
Former DOS priest, Fr. Justin Mathews is leading the new Orthodox Christian domestic social action network called FOCUS (Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve.) As Executive Director, CEO, Fr Mathews, in a press releases posted on both the OCA and FOCUS websites, announced the FOCUS vision as well as the work already being conducted by the organization and partner ministries such as Raphael House.
The FOCUS press release is below. Members of the DOS are encouraged to seek additional information about FOCUS by visiting their website.
---------------KANSAS CITY, KS [FOCUS North America]
-- In early 2009, FOCUS North America [Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve] launched as a network of Orthodox Christian social action ministries that express Christ's love in North America for those who are hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick or in prison [Matt. 25:35-5]. In its first 60 days of operation, FOCUS North America has partnered with dozens of Orthodox agencies and parish initiatives and awarded more than $30,000 in grants.
FOCUS grew out of the need for an Orthodox Christian effort to address the persistent and pervasive needs of the suffering, impoverished or vulnerable in North America. It is a staggering reality that over 40 million people live below the poverty line and the unemployed rate exceeds 11 million people in North America and is increasing. While there are a variety of Orthodox Christian agencies within all jurisdictions effectively engaged in addressing these needs, a coordinated effort with national support and encouragement could be much more effective.
In January 2009, an historic meeting of twenty leaders, staff, academics and patrons of leading Orthodox Christian domestic social action agencies, with members representing a variety of Orthodox jurisdictions in North America, was sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Charles and Marilee Ajalat and the Orthodox Vision Foundation. That meeting was the catalyst for the creation of FOCUS North America and the refining of its vision, which is to make a significant and sustainable impact through Orthodox Christian social action initiatives in the lives of suffering, impoverished or vulnerable persons of any age, race, creed or color in North America, especially in, but not limited to, ministries providing immediate relief in the areas of Food, Occupation, Clothing, Understanding and Shelter.
FOCUS is compelled by Christ's mandate to serve those in need through:
Education in faith communities of the Scriptural mandate, historical precedence and urgency for living out the Christian faith and witness through personal involvement in social service
Support of existing social action agencies through training, coordination and funding from significant private and public sources
Initiating the creation, and nurturing the healthy growth and funding, of new locally-based social outreaches and their leaders
Collaboration with individuals who want to support social ministry through volunteerism or funding of these initiatives
Orthodox agencies and parishes with social service initiatives or plans for future projects are encouraged to become part of the FOCUS North America network. For more information about FOCUS North America
, go to www.FocusNorthAmerica.org or contact Fr. Justin Mathews at 816.399.0909 or via email at FrJustin@focusna.org.