Monday, February 01, 2010
February 14, 2010
Sunday of Cheesefare and Mission Sunday
"The harvest is truly plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." (Matthew 9:37-38)
To the Most Reverend Clergy, Venerable Monastics and
The Devout Faithful of the Holy Orthodox Churches in the Americas
Dearly Beloved in the Lord,
We greet you in the love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ! The Lenten fast that precedes the Great and Holy Feast of Pascha is upon us. Like the dawn of a new day, the beginning of this 40-day journey provides opportunities for us to recommit ourselves and our whole lives to Christ our God. The Sunday before Great Lent, February 14th, 2010, is Mission Sunday as designated by the hierarchs of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA). Over the past two millennia, the work of making disciples has been a focal ministry of saints, and billions of people have accepted life in Christ. Today, sixty-six percent of the world's population is still non-Christian; thus missionary service remains a core ministry of the Church and a collective movement of the faithful.
Over the past 15 years, the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC), as the official missions agency of SCOBA, has provided the faithful of North America with opportunities to answer their call to make disciples of all nations. Over 70 people who serve as OCMC Ambassadors are taking this call to parishes across the country, and the mission ministries of our Orthodox Churches that are outside of America are growing as a result.
Today, through the prayers and support of the faithful, there are 20 men and women who are serving, or preparing to serve, as long-term missionaries in places like Albania, Romania, and Tanzania. Likewise, young, growing seminaries around the world are receiving support to provide theological training to over 250 local priests, catechists, and ministry leaders in places where the Church is newly emerging. With assistance from OCMC's Support a Mission Priest (SAMP) Program, there are 400 priests in 19 countries who are bringing the Faith to those who may never have heard the Gospel's message of salvation. And, in 2010, OCMC plans to train and send over 100 Orthodox Christians from across North America to serve on 14 short-term Mission Teams, bringing a living witness to the Orthodox Faith in Africa, Asia, Europe, Central America, and Alaskan North America.
It is our responsibility to ensure that these efforts continue. There is no greater way to invest our abundant blessings than in the salvation and eternal life of others. Let us pray, give, and serve to welcome our brothers and sisters around the world into the open arms of Christ.
In urgent expectation of Christ's awesome Resurrection, let us work boldly to make disciples of all nations. Truly, the harvest is plentiful, but we need the prayers and active support of all the faithful for OCMC, so that laborers will answer the call of the Lord and enter into His abundant and glorious harvest.
With paternal blessings and love in Christ,
+Archbishop DEMETRIOS, Chairman
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
+Metropolitan PHILIP, Vice Chairman
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
+Metropolitan CHRISTOPHER, Secretary
Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America
+Metropolitan NICHOLAS of Amissos, Treasurer
American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese in the USA
Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas
Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church
Orthodox Church in America
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
+Archpriest Alexander Abramov
Acting Representative of the Moscow Patriarchate in the USA
+Bishop ILIA of Philomelion
Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America