The annual “You-Tube Challenge” issued by the Orthodox Church in America’s Department of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministry exists to help you find your voice, and give you a place to share it. The world today, and even our Church has so much to say to our youth and young adults. However, as we all become more mature in our faith we find our own voice, our own ways of articulating what we know and believe. Additionally, we will provide you with helpful feedback and guidance so that your skills can be sharpened and honed to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ in your own life. Welcome to the 2013 OCA YouTube Challenge!
Youth and Young Adult (Ages 14-28) will respond with a video by midnight on November 15, 2013 to the following question: “What is the Gospel?” Participants may wish to reflect on:
- The essential message of Jesus Christ
- What his actions and words tell us about humanity and divinity
- How the Gospel message can be preached in your particular environment (school, work, family, etc..)
Participants may wish to use their video to deliver a traditional speech, or find ways of more creatively answering the challenge through visual imagery and poetic license.
For more information, follow the link to the page on the OCA website. Roll cameras!
Contact: Archpriest Thomas Moore 803 318 6093 firstname.lastname@example.org
Holy Apostles Orthodox Church has received a grant of $35,000 to enable its minister, Fr. Thomas Moore, to participate in the 2013 National Clergy Renewal Program funded by the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. and administered by Christian Theological Seminary. Holy Apostles is one of 87 congregations across the country selected to participate in this competitive grant program. Established by the Endowment in 2000, the program’s grants allow Christian congregations to support their pastors with the gift of extended time away from their ministerial duties and responsibilities.
Ministers whose congregations are awarded the grants use their time away from the demands of daily ministry to engage in a period of reflection and renewal. The approach respects the “Sabbath time” concept, offering ministers a carefully considered respite that may include travel, study, rest, immersive arts and cultural experiences, and prayer.
Through the National Clergy Renewal Program, congregations apply for grants of up to $50,000 to support a renewal program for their pastors. Collaborative in nature and implementation, the program allows congregations to partner with their ministers in developing an experience that addresses their unique renewal needs and aspirations. Recognizing that ministers’ families are subject to the stress and demands placed on pastoral leaders, the program encourages pastors to involve their families in renewal activities. Congregational needs during the minister’s renewal experience also are considered. Up to $15,000 of the grant may be used to fund interim pastoral leadership during the pastor’s retreat, as well as for renewal activities within the congregation. Since the National Clergy Renewal Program’s inception, more than 1,800 congregations have participated in the program, including the 87 congregations receiving grants in 2013.
There three parts of the grant requested by Holy Apostles. The first is to address one of the challenges facing Orthodox Churches as they grow. Priests often serve in the same parish for many years. After many years of close relationships, when the priest moves or retires, it is often difficult for the faithful to embrace a new pastor. As Fr. Thomas is getting close to retirement age, he plans to spend some of his time visiting monasteries and parishes that have recently changed leadership to discuss what worked and what didn’t. Secondly, he will spend some quiet time gardening and bookbinding which his current responsibilities hinder. Finally, one of the questions asked in the Grant packet is “What would make your heart sing?”. Fr. Thomas has always wanted to learn to fly, but couldn’t justify the money or time. The Grant will provide funds for a substitute priest at Holy Apostles for four months, travel expenses, and for flying lessons to obtain his pilot’s license.
“Lilly Endowment intends for this program to enable pastors to live for a while at a different pace and in a new environment, in Sabbath time and space,” said Dr. Christopher L. Coble, vice president for religion at the Endowment. “We can think of no better way to honor these hardworking, faithful men and women than to help them experience personal growth and spiritual renewal in ways that they themselves design and find meaningful. We regularly hear that these renewal experiences are transformative for pastors, their families and their congregations.”
Dr. Rev. Robert Saler, research fellow and director of the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs, part of the Center for Pastoral Excellence at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, noted that the National Clergy Renewal Program integrates key attributes of healthy congregations, including a mutual respect for the renewal needs of both ministers and the congregations they serve.
“The program provides an opportunity for congregations to express appreciation for their ministers’ service and leadership,” Saler said. “At a time when leaders are often praised for their pace of innovation and productivity, the National Clergy Renewal Program pays homage to the timeless wisdom embedded in the practice of reflection and renewal.”
Please see this article from the News-Record about the land blessing and Cross blessing for Holy Cross Church in Greensboro, NC.
Reflection on 9/11
(The following talk was given by Fr. Anthony Hughes at the Islamic Center just outside of Boston, in Wayland, Massachusetts on September 11, 2003. Fr. Anthony was one of many invited clergy speakers who offered thoughts on the horrific events of 9/11/01. He is the priest at St. Mary's Antiochian Orthodox Church in Boston, Massachusetts. As they remind us of God's humility and boundless love, we present Fr. Anthony's words on this solemn day for our country.)
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, One God. Amen.
Please allow me to reflect theologically for just a moment on the events of September 11, 2001 from the perspective of the Eastern Orthodox Faith.
We do not for a moment believe that the terrorists enacted the will of God on that terrible day. It was not God’s will these men performed, but their own. God’s will is not the same thing as His foreknowledge say the Orthodox fathers. Simply because God knows something is going to happen does not mean that He has willed it to happen! Then, as fundamentalists in every religion do, they attempted to put their own face on the face of God and we all know what the end result is: they make gods of themselves and idols in their own image.
Above all things God is limitless, incomprehensible, unconditional and inexhaustible love. As paradoxical as it may seem, God, the All-Powerful, the All-knowing has revealed Himself to be also the Humblest of All, the Most Merciful, the Most-Compassionate.
We speak lightly of justice in this world as the ultimate value. But this is not so. It is not justice that heals the world, but mercy. St. Isaac of Syria, the great ascetical spiritual father has written these words:
"Do not say that God is just…God’s own Son has revealed to us that he is before all things good and kind. He is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Where is the hell that could afflict us or the damnation that could make us afraid to the extent of overwhelming the joy of God’s love? In the place of what sinners justly deserve, he gives them resurrection. In place of the bodies that have profaned his law, he clothes them anew in glory…See, Lord, I can no longer keep silent before the ocean of thy Grace!"
What remains for us then, as people of faith, is to live lives full of mercy, peace, light, and beauty in this world, lives resembling God. Living such a life is risky. It demands that we give our all to values many do not share. A wise rabbi once said, “The messiah will come when one person in the world says yes to God.” For Christians that person is the Virgin Mary who risked everything for the healing of the world by saying "yes" to God and giving birth to His Son. We too must say yes, my friends, so that light may shine more brightly in this present darkness.