The first ever, national study on evangelization and outreach in Orthodox parishes in the United States has been released by the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA. The report 'Go and Make Disciples: Evangelization and Outreach in US Orthodox Parishes' explores the practices and strategies developed by some Orthodox parishes that can be viewed as 'exemplary' in their missionary and outreach efforts. (show less)
Pascha 2017 - To the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of Parish Councils, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Members of Philanthropic Organizations, the Youth and Youth Workers, and the entire Orthodox Christian Family in the United States of America (show less)
The Department of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is inviting graduate and recent post-graduate students to apply for its fellowships at the United Nations. (show less)
Scout Sunday is an annual event among all faiths which recognize the good work that is done by Scouts in our religious communities. The observance of Scout Sunday tradition was started years ago to make people in the church aware of Scouting, and to allow Scouts to live out of what is pledged each week. (show less)
The Assembly of Bishops has designated January 15, 2017 as Orthodox Christian Network "Share the Light Sunday". Now more than ever, we need to focus on the next generation of Orthodox leaders. The Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) has decided to take this concern and address it in a real and impactful way. In addition to our strong media ministry presence on multiple platforms, we will spend 2017 focusing on identifying and highlighting thirty Orthodox individuals who exhibit strong leadership and mentor skills in their community and who are under the age of thirty. (show less)
On this most blessed day of Christ’s Nativity, we are encouraged to direct our hearts and minds not only to the spectacle of lights, the sounds of carols, and the tastes of savory food, but to the horror of darkness, the chaos of war, and the sound of grumbling stomachs of our brothers and sisters. This occurs overseas but also in our own backyard. (show less)
Two recently published books, Queen Abigail the Wise and Vanessa the Wonder-Worker, are helping to fill a gap in Orthodox Christian fiction for “tween” readers between the ages of 9 and 12. Bookended by heavily illustrated readers for toddlers and serious tomes about dating for teens, the world of Orthodox Christian fiction hasn’t had much to offer tweens. But the new series of chapter books from author/illustrator Grace Brooks, a parishioner at Saint Paul Church, Las Vegas, NV, promises to change that, engaging tween readers at an age when crucial long-term ties to the faith are formed.
The intersection between Church life and “real life” is fertile ground for adventure to the books’ tween characters who encounter each other at church once a week. They start as acquaintances, become friends and find themselves learning about their faith and themselves in ways that are engaging, thought-provoking and easy for young readers to relate to.
In Queen Abigail the Wise, 10-year-old Abigail is having trouble paying attention in church, prompting her priest makes a deal with her. At stake is an icon she knows will help her focus, but to get it, she’ll need help from four other friends. She starts the “Every Tuesday Club” so they can go to work on this and other problems. Over the weeks of Lent leading up to Pascha, her adventure ends up bringing them closer to their faith, their family and each other. In the sequel, Vanessa the Wonder-Worker, 12-year-old Vanessa turns to the Club when her older brother is going through a crisis of faith. Vanessa must learn how to express matters of faith in ways that a skeptic can understand, and she gets help from a pious stranger who seems to just know things. If Vanessa wants to find the miracle she’s looking for, she will have to learn more and confront her own desires to be successful in the world.
Both books have enjoyed strong reviews in the Orthodox community, and Grace is planning least two more volumes in the series.
“Queen Abigail the Wise is a delightful read for kids and a wonderful resource for parents looking for engaging Orthodox literature to include in their family’s home library,” said Molly Sabourin, author of Close to Home: One Orthodox Mother’s Quest for Patience, Peace and Perseverance. “This book is a treasure!”
Elissa D. Bjeletic, host of the “Raising Saints” Orthodox podcast and author of Blueprints for the Little Church, had similar praise for Vanessa: “My ten-year old absolutely loved this book! She could not stop talking about how great it was. I recommend this whole-heartedly!”
Archpriest John Dresko, Rector of Saint Paul Church, Grace’s Pastor, and proofreader of both books, said that “Grace has captured the essence of a pre- and young-teen’s struggles, which mirror in a small way the struggles of all of us. Her writing is vibrant and captivating. I have the highest recommendation to pastors and parish bookstore managers — your parish young people will love these books.”
Both volumes are available on Amazon, as indicated below. Wholesale pricing is available directly from the author for orders of three or more copies. Order at the links below or by calling the author directly at 816-985-0305.
Queen Abigail the Wise On Amazon
Amazon price: $14.99
Bulk price (3 or more) from the author: $10 plus shipping.
Vanessa the Wonder-Worker On Amazon
410 pages, illustrated
Price on Amazon: $16.50
Bulk: $12 plus shipping
Additional discounts are possible for orders of 10 or more.
“Created by Gail McIntyre, who attends Saint Michael Church, Louisville, KY, the series has been edited and expanded by the OCA Department of Christian Education,” according to Matushka Valerie Zahirsky, DCE Chair. “The series is written on four levels, from age three to grade five, which offers our very young children a chance to learn during the summer and to spend time together while Church school is not in session.”
Each session is based on an Old Testament character, giving children a chance to discover the ways the Old Testament leads us to the New Testament and the teachings of the Church.
“So, for example, one session begins with the story of King Josiah, who led his people in a godly way and who rebuilt the same Temple that Jesus would worship in many years later,” Matushka Valerie explains. “The session goes on to a consideration of the icon of the Entry into Jerusalem and of Jesus Christ as not only leader and king, but Son of God.”
Each session also has hands-on activities and discussion points geared to the specific age levels for which the sessions are written.
“The Department of Christian Education is grateful to Gail McIntyre for sharing her creative materials, and invites other teachers to send items they have created to the Department, to be shared with all our parish Church schools,” Matushka Valerie added. Those wishing to share resources are invited to send them to the DCE at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All Saints Camp here will be the site of the second annual camping experience—the Saint Nicholas Program—for Orthodox Christian youth, ages nine through 19, with disabilities and their families June 19-22, 2017.
Sponsored by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA [UOCUSA], the camp program is designed for parents and their children with disabilities to spend time together in an Orthodox family environment.
“Campers are introduced to camp life at while parents are given the opportunity to meet fellow Orthodox parents who are tackling the same challenges in today’s world,” explained Natalie Kapeluck Nixon, UOCUSA Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. “All aspects of the program are designed to give youth with disabilities an optimal experience through sensory friendly daily prayer services, modified learning Church school lessons, parent workshops and discussions, parent/child sports, crafts, singing, dancing, bonfires, quiet activity time, scavenger hunts, and swimming, just to mention a few of the activities.
“We are thrilled to be once again offering this mini-camp to serve our youth with disabilities and their families,” Natalie continued. “Our hope is to provide the campers with a positive camping experience, deepening their faith and a place for the parents and family to find rest and community.”
Among the parent speakers will be Presvytera Melanie DiStefano. A graduate of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Brookline, MA and a member of the faculty of Holy Trinity Orthodox Christian Academy, Warren, OH, she is a frequent speaker and author on the topic of family, disability and the Church. Her workshop topic will be “The Image of Christ in Your Child.”
A new feature for this year’s program enables families to have the option to participate in the full four-day program or to attend for a single day.
“We are also looking for individuals interested being on staff for this program,” Natalie added. “Paid and volunteer positions are available and pre-camp training will be required. Please encourage your faithful to participate in this program as campers and staff.”
Titled “Go and Make Disciples: Evangelization and Outreach in US Orthodox Parishes,” the study explores the practices and strategies developed by some Orthodox parishes that can be viewed as “exemplary” in their missionary and outreach efforts. Examples of what the readers will find in the report include
the “secrets” of being a parish that attracts and welcomes new members;
eight good practices of welcoming first-time visitors and inquirers about the Faith;
how do “exemplary” parishes achieve a high degree of involvement of their members in parish life;
four distinct features of religious education in the “exemplary” parishes; and
six “lessons” that Church leadership (bishops) can learn from the “exemplary” parishes.
The community of Saint Tikhon’s Monastery and Seminary extends a cordial invitation to all faithful to attend the 113th Annual Pilgrimage Memorial Day weekend, May 26-29, 2017.
“We are very glad to be able to offer the blessing of the monastery and her founder, Saint Tikhon of Moscow, to all visiting hierarchs, clergy and faithful from the Orthodox Church in America and other Orthodox jurisdictions and guests from near and far,” said Archimandrite Sergius, Abbot of Saint Tikhon’s Monastery.
The pilgrimage will officially open on Friday, May 26, at 3:30 p.m. with the greeting of the Hawaiian Myrrh Streaming Icon of the Iveron Mother of God and the celebration of a Molieben. Vespers and Matins will follow at 4:00 p.m. in the Monastery Church of Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk. The icon will be available for veneration throughout the pilgrimage. All pilgrims are invited to dinner in the monastery dining hall following Friday’s services.
The 75th annual Commencement of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary will be held on Saturday, May 27. The day will open with the celebration of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy in the monastery church at 9:00 a.m., followed by a meal in the dining hall. Commencement Exercises will begin at 1:00 p.m. The Resurrection Vigil will be celebrated at 4:00 p.m., followed by dinner for all pilgrims in the dining hall.
The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, May 28, followed by a meal for all in the dining hall. Vespers and Matins will be celebrated at 4:00 p.m.
On Memorial Day—Monday, May 29—the Divine Liturgy will be celebrated in the Monastery Church at 7:30 a.m. The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at 10:00 a.m., followed by a Panikhida for Veterans at All Saints Bell Tower at 12:15 p.m. The Akathistos Hymn to Saint Alexis will be celebrated in the monastery church at 1:30 p.m., while the Molieben to the Most Holy Theotokos with the Anointing of the Sick, Infirm and All Pilgrims will be celebrated at the monastery bell tower at 2:30 p.m. The pilgrimage will close with the celebration of Vespers and Matins at 4:00 p.m.
Concurrent with the Pilgrimage, the Patriarch Tikhon Russian-American Music Institute [PaTRAM] will hold its Second Annual Memorial Day Young Singers’ Conference at the Monastery. [See related story.] PaTRAM recently released the first recording by its Patriarch Tikhon Choir, titled “Praise the Lord, All Ye Nations.” Under the direction of Maestro Vladimir Gorbik, the 30-voice mixed choir includes vocalists and choral musicians from the US, Canada and Russia. Conference participants will sing the liturgical responses during the Pilgrimage. Detailed Conference information may be accessed on PaTRAM’s web site.
Saint Vladimir’s Seminary is pleased to announce that it recently received an unprecedented major monetary gift to support Saint Vladimir’s Seminary Press [SVS Press], its renowned publishing house. The gift, made by Bronson and Kathleen Eden, will be used to establish “The Mr. and Mrs. Bronson B. T. Eden Endowment for Saint Vladimir’s Seminary Press,” which will promote the educational work of the Press by providing funds for acquisitions and translations, editorial and managerial support, and marketing and other activities that further the growth and financial success of the Press.
Since its founding, the Press has been instrumental in supporting the seminary’s mission in spreading the Gospel of Christ and the teachings of the Orthodox Christian faith. Benefactor Kathleen Eden shared that she had been actively acquiring and reading SVS Press books since 1988, even before she entered the Orthodox Church, and that the seminary’s publications had had a significant influence on her. Her husband, Bronson, who fell asleep in the Lord one month following the couple’s generous gift, also was an enthusiast of the Press.
“The Edens have decided to make this major gift to increase the work of the Press and to help ensure its growth and its ability to reach new markets in fulfilling its mission,” remarked the Archpriest Chad Hatfield, Seminary President. “In so doing, they have also helped us complete one of the short-term goals of our new business model, put into place by our Board in May 2016, which is ‘to manage and grow SVS Press and its program quality.’ We express an enormous debt of gratitude to the Edens for their confidence and belief in Saint Vladimir’s Seminary to enlarge the ongoing missionary work of the Press.”
Over the years the Press has grown from a small enterprise that published and distributed its faculty’s class lectures (using a mimeograph machine) to an internationally recognized first-class academic publication house. Its volumes — including works on spirituality, Christian biography, contemporary issues in religion, Church history, doctrine, patristic studies, biblical studies, sacred arts, and even children’s books — have been translated into 16 languages, while its music and spoken word collection includes more than 15 compact disk recordings.
“I have been informed by our accrediting agency, the Association of Theological Schools, that our Press is the only seminary publishing house — among all the other seminaries they accredit — to earn an annual net profit without requiring a subsidy from the operations budget of its school,” Father Chad added. “Rather than requiring funds from our Seminary’s operations budget, SVS Press annually contributes to our operations budget. So, besides being a blessing to so many around the globe, SVS Press is essential to our ability to run the seminary. In fiscal year 2016, SVS Press contributed its net profit of $415,740 to the Seminary’s operations budget, and this is nothing short of amazing.
“Truly,” Father Chad ended, “God has blessed this ministry, and we are profoundly grateful to Bronson and Kathleen Eden for granting us the means not only to continue it, but also to expand it for the benefit of the seminary and to the glory of God.”