The Department of Evangelization of the Orthodox Church in America announces the 2024 Mission Planting Grant recipients:
Saint Alexis of Wilkes-Barre Mission in Palm Coast, FL is awarded a first-year grant of $40,000. A mission originally established in 1995, it struggled for years to gain momentum due to various factors. However, through the patient guidance of Father Nicholas Molodyko-Harris and the subsequent assignment of mission-planting veteran, Father David Rucker, the mission is finding its stride. This active pan-Orthodox community is on track to grow by over 100% through the duration of the program. Located in one of the fastest growing areas of the entire United States, the mission’s careful and programmatic approach to community health and growth is exemplary. They are located in the North Florida Deanery of the Diocese of the South.
Saint Ambrose of Milan Mission in Roanoke, VA is awarded a second-year grant of $32,000. A rebooted mission which was originally established in 1979, the Orthodox community is on track to grow by 75% through the duration of the program.
Archangel Gabriel Mission in Hickory, NC is awarded a second-year grant of $32,000. Located in the rapidly growing area near both Charlotte and Greensboro, the growing mission established in 2014 is seeking to purchase property in the near future for a permanent home.
Award amounts were raised across the board in 2023 to keep up with rising costs and to set realistic expectations for full-time clergy compensation.
“Each mission must submit to a rigorous application and review process as well as ongoing support provided by the Department of Evangelization. To make the evaluation process as objective as possible, missions are evaluated in the areas of geographic factors, evangelistic outreach efforts, vision, projected growth, the vibrancy of their liturgical, educational, and social life, leadership, and need. Our goal is to ensure that missions are actively reaching out to all those who are seeking Christ in the Orthodox Christian Church.” said Archpriest Thomas Soroka, Project Manager for the Orthodox Church in America.
Grant applications are reviewed and approved by each mission’s respective diocesan bishop before they are submitted. After a review by the Department, recommendations for qualified missions are submitted first to the Metropolitan Council and then to the Holy Synod of Bishops for final approval. The Metropolitan Council approved these grants during their Fall 2023 meeting and the Holy Synod confirmed this decision at their Fall session.
The grant money must be used solely to assist in providing a salary for a full-time resident priest and must be matched by the qualifying mission, deanery, or diocese. Grants may be renewed for a maximum of three years. Over $1,000,000 in Church Planting Grants has been awarded to missions since the program was initiated over two decades ago.
Archpriest Alexander Rentel, Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America, stated, “The very heart of the mission of the Orthodox Church in America is to make faithful disciples in strong communities throughout North America. The Mission Planting Grant has proven itself to be an essential program to fulfill this important work. We encourage everyone to give their prayerful financial support through the Stewards of the Orthodox Church in America so that we can continue to build strong new communities. We are also deeply thankful for the generosity of an anonymous donor who has faithfully supported these worthy goals.”
The generous gifts of Stewards of the OCA fund the development of programs and resources to assist parishes, missions, and faithful thrive in effective ministry. Consider becoming a Steward today!