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Planting Grant Missions:  “Freely Ye Have Received, Freely Give!”

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Annunciation faithful with Fr. Joel after Paschal Vespers 2017.

Planted in 2013, the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary Mission here received it’s first-year Church Planting Grant from the Orthodox Church in America at the beginning of 2017.  And since that time, “the many opportunities that have been made possible are difficult to count,” according to Priest Joel Wilson.  “Wanting to be good stewards of what we have been given—and also knowing that we are accountable before God for all of His gifts—we have reached some important milestones this year, thanks to the grant.”

Among the milestones Father Joel cites is a marked increase in attendance at liturgical services.

“We’ve been able to celebrated a more complete cycle of services for Holy Week and Pascha, with as many as 60 people in attendance at several of the services,” said Father Joel.  “We’ve also added more services to our weekly cycle—Reader’s Matins and Small Compline during fasts—and I’ve increased my availability to meet with people during regular Wednesday and Friday morning office hours and lunch appointments throughout the week.”

Among the mission’s other recent milestones are the training of men as readers and younger boys as altar servers; the welcoming of more men and women who sing at the chanters’ stand; initial steps in designing a new web site to provide a space for education and connection to those who may be interested in Orthodox Christianity; the building of shelves to house the community’s bookstore and newly established library; the ongoing beautification of the mission’s worship space, including exploration of designs for a proper iconostasis; and the purchase of fabric used to sew altar coverings, robes for altar servers, and a full set of priest vestments.

“And now, being on salary, Matushka Tessi and I were able to make a five-day spiritual retreat at Saint Tikhon’s Monastery in July 2017,” Father Joel explained, adding that “while it may be encouraging to hear about these milestones of growth in the Church, these efforts are primarily focused inward.

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Fr. Joel with Annunciation Mission’s 12th, and most recent, catechumen.

“When sending out His apostles, Christ commanded them, ‘Freely ye have received, freely give’ [Matthew 10:8],” Father Joel was quick to add.  “In obedience to His command, it is also our desire as a mission to ‘freely give,’ increasing God’s gifts and offering them to the local community and the larger Body.”

As an expression of this desire, the Annunciation’s faithful also have pursued several other efforts this year through which they can “freely give” to others as well, said Father Joel.

“We sent out our first missionary on an organized mission trip to a Native American reservation this year,” he explained.  “Even before she left, a desire was sparked among many of our faithful to participate in a short-term mission trip, most likely through the Orthodox Christian Mission Center, in 2018.”

The mission has also started to offer more focused and accessible Christian Education classes on Wednesday evenings.

“At the suggestion of several other priests, we purchased An Orthodox Catechism, requested that each talk be listened to ahead of time, and then coupled this with other basic catechesis and questions,” Father Joel said.  “Since doing this, we’ve seen attendance at the classes—and for the services beforehand—double since last year.”

The mission also has stepped up its participation with and support of local organizations, especially those that provide support and resources for single mothers and those with difficult pregnancies, which according to Father Joel “has helped our neighbors put faces on our mission as we become increasingly associated with those who do beautiful things in our community.

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Faithful were thrilled to receive a donation of icons from the faithful at Theotokos “Unexpected Joy” Mission, Ash Grove, MO.

“We’ve also been experimenting with adding several new methods of engagement, including the building of our own church app and the automated texting of reminders for upcoming services and events,” Father Joel added.  “This has allowed those in our mission who live far away to stay connected with others in the parish, to know what is happening, and to make donations.  It has also helped those who don’t have a smartphone or regular internet access to stay current by receiving text updates.”

Father Joel and his flock remain vigilant in recognizing the endless possibilities they face as a growing community in the months and years ahead.

“We are incredibly grateful for these opportunities, made possible by the planting grant,” Father Joel observed.  “And we are excited to see what may yet happen the rest of this year as we pray that all of these opportunities will help to strengthen the Church in our corner of the Lord’s vineyard!”

Follow the growth of Annunciation Mission on-line.

The Martyrdom of St. Alexander Hotovitsky is Commemorated in St. Nicholas Cathedral

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On Sunday, August 20, the Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, His Grace Bishop John of Naro-Fominsk led the Divine Liturgy commemorating the martyrdom of Hieromartyr Alexander Hotovitsky – the founder and first rector of St. Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral in New York City. 

Assembly of Bishops responds to racist violence in Charlottesville, VA

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On Friday, August 18, 2017, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America issued a response to the recent racist violence in Charlottesville, VA.

The members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, who fully participate in the work of the Assembly, issued a similar statement, the complete text of which was made available on-line on Wednesday, August 16.

The text of the Assembly of Bishops’ response appears below.

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America
Response to Racist Violence in Charlottesville, VA
Friday, August 18, 2017

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America stands with all people of good will in condemning the hateful violence and lamenting the loss of life that resulted from the shameful efforts to promote racial bigotry and white supremacist ideology in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The Orthodox Church emphatically declares that it does not promote, protect or sanction participation in such reprehensible acts of hatred, racism, and discrimination, and proclaims that such beliefs and behaviors have no place in any community based in respect for the law and faith in a loving God.

The essence of the Christian Gospel and the spirit of the Orthodox Tradition are entirely and self-evidently incompatible with ideologies that declare the superiority of any race over another.  Our God shows no partiality or favoritism [Deuteronomy 10:17, Romans 2:11].  Our Lord Jesus Christ “broke down the dividing wall of hostility that had separated God from humans and humans from each other” [Ephesians 2:14].  In Christ Jesus, the Church proclaims, there can be “neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male or female, but all are one” [Galatians 3:28].  Furthermore, we call on one another “to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather to expose them [Ephesians 5:11].  And what is darkness if not hatred?  “The one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness” [1 John 2:11]!

Furthermore, in 1872, Hierarchs from around the world assembled in Constantinople and denounced all forms of xenophobia and chauvinism [phyletism].  They agreed that the promotion of racial or national supremacy and ethnic bias or dissension in the Church of Christ is to be censured as contrary to the sacred teachings of the Christian Gospel and the holy canons of the Church.  It is formally condemned as heresy, the strongest category of false teaching.

Finally, such actions as we have witnessed in recent days, by self-proclaimed white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and various racists and fascists, betray the core human values of love and solidarity.  In this, we pray wholeheartedly for the families of those who lost their lives or suffered in these tragic events.  In like manner, we cannot condone any form of revenge or retaliation by any group or individual.  Therefore, we fervently appeal to every person of good will, and especially the leaders of our great nation, to consider and adopt ways of reconciling differences in order to rise above any and all discrimination in our history, our present, and our future.

Bishop John Leads Divine Liturgy on the Feast of the Transfiguration

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On the Great Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, His Grace Bishop John of Naro-Fominsk, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA celebrated the Divine Liturgy in St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York City.

Response to Racist Violence in Charlottesville, VA

This post was originally published on this site

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America stands with all people of good will in condemning the hateful violence and lamenting the loss of life that resulted from the shameful efforts to promote racial bigotry and white supremacist ideology in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Response to Racist Violence in Charlottesville, VA

This post was originally published on this site

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America stands with all people of good will in condemning the hateful violence and lamenting the loss of life that resulted from the shameful efforts to promote racial bigotry and white supremacist ideology in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Притча про про немилосердного боржника

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Господь наш Ісус Христос проповідуючи в своєму земному перебуванні Євангеліє Царства Божого, навчає народи прикладами простими й зрозумілими для кожної людини. Читаючи сьогодні притчу Христа, в якій Він уподібнює Царство Небесне пану, що захотів розрахуватися з рабами своїми — боржниками, ми приймаємо істину Господню, що є любов до ближнього і що є Царство Небесне.

A Merciless Servant

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In today’s Gospel lesson we heard the parable about the merciful king and a merciless servant. Jesus Christ told this parable when Apostle Peter asked the Savior: “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” (Mt. 18:21).

Bishop John Meets with Newly-Appointed Russian Ambassador to the United Nations

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On Thursday evening, August 17, the Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, His Grace Bishop John of Naro-Fominsk, met with the newly-appointed Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzya.

Young Adult Initiative Announces Fourteen Pilot Parishes

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The Telos Project, a five-year initiative at Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology (HCHC) exploring the spiritual and religious lives of young adults ages 23-29, is pleased to announce the fourteen pilot parishes that will assist in field research.

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