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OCMC News - OCMC Fall 2017 Board Meeting: Seeing A Growing Need for Orthodox Missions

by Cliff Argue (Posted 11/20/2017)

OCMC News - OCMC Fall 2017 Board Meeting: Seeing  A Growing Need for Orthodox Missions
At this year’s Annual OCMC Fall Board Meeting, board members discussed growing the number of long-term missionaries serving abroad. Thomas and Elizabeth Manual were approved for Missionary service in Guatemala and Dr. Bill Black received approval to transfer to Kenya’s Western Diocese under His Grace Bishop Athanasius Akunda.

MOUNT PLEASANT, SC – A first-hand report on challenges and opportunities facing Orthodoxy in Kenya, East Africa by Orthodox Christian Mission Center long-term missionary Dr. Bill Black was a major feature of the Fall meeting of the OCMC Board of Directors, November 13-15.

The Board also discussed methods for increasing long-term missionaries in the field, enhancing development opportunities, and maximizing social media presence. In addition, the Directors adopted the 2018 budget, reviewed investments, insurance and governance matters, updated missionary policies, endorsed joint efforts with other agencies of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the United States, and received a report on the upcoming OCMC Gala early next year.

Thomas and Elizabeth Manual were approved for Missionary service in Guatemala. Thomas is currently pastoral assistant and youth director at Annunciation Cathedral in Norfolk, VA, and Elizabeth is a special needs teacher.

The sessions were held at the Holy Ascension Orthodox Church, which serves the greater Charleston area, hosted by its pastor and OCMC Board member, Fr. John Parker. In addition, Fr. Parker serves as Chair of the Department of Evangelism of the Orthodox Church in America, and has a regular podcast on Ancient Faith Radio.

For the past two years, Dr. Black has been in Nairobi assigned as Deputy Dean and Lecturer at the Makarios III Seminary. Unfortunately, during most of that time, the seminary has been closed due to the lack of funding from Greece and Cyprus. There is not much hope of it reopening in the near future. Instead, His Grace Bishop Athanasius (Akunda), a Kenyan and graduate of Holy Cross Seminary in Brookline, MA where he was supported by OCMC, has invited Dr. Black to serve in the newly created Diocese of Kisumu and Western Kenya. Working toward an ultimate goal of self-sustainability, Dr. Black will be developing a program of continuing education for the diocese’s one hundred plus clergy, as well as teaching stewardship, discipleship, and leadership in the parishes.

Following an afternoon and evening of committee meetings, the next morning the Directors worshipped and received Holy Communion together at a Divine Liturgy and prayers were offered for newly departed George Parandes of Jacksonville, FL, a former Board member and long-time Treasurer.

Board President John Colis reflected on a mission team trip he and his wife Carrie joined this past summer to Ghana in West Africa which he described as “overwhelming” from their experiences with both the poverty and piety of the Orthodox people there.

President Colis also welcomed new member Michael Kuziak of Old Lyme, CT, and thanked three individuals who are leaving the Board, Armin Brown, Fr. Matthew Tate, and Sotiris Pagdadis.

In his report, Executive Director Fr. Martin Ritsi highlighted cooperative ventures with Orthodox Christian Fellowship in its Real Break program and Project Mexico which builds homes for poor families in Mexico, as well as working with Orthodox summer camp directors to include Mission segments in their programs. In all these cases the desire is to better acquaint high school and college age young people with Orthodox Mission opportunities.

Fr. Ritsi also explained the work to establish Orthodoxy in Jamaica under Metropolitan Athenagoras of Mexico.

On February 10, 2018, OCMC is holding a Gala event in Boca Raton, FL to honor long-time Board member and Past President Helen Nicozisis and her husband Lou, generous benefactors for Missions. For more information or to help sponsor the commemorative journal, please contact FrChris@ocmc.org.

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Prayer for Missions

God of truth and love: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Hear our prayer for those who do not know You. That they may come to a saving knowledge of the truth, and that Your Name may be praised among all peoples of the world. Sustain, inspire, and enlighten Your servants who bring them the Gospel. Bring fresh vigor to wavering faith; sustain our faith when it is still fragile. Continually renew missionary zeal in ourselves and in the Church, and raise up new missionaries who will follow You to the ends of the world. Make us witnesses to Your goodness full of love, full of strength, and full of faith for Your glory and the salvation of the entire world. Through the prayers of all the missionary saints, Have mercy on us and save us. Amen.