"At the heart of everything we do in missions is building local eucharistic communities,” shared OCMC Missionary Nathan Hoppe during a recent visit to the Mission Center in St. Augustine, Florida.
Nathan, who is the longest-serving OCMC missionary, and his wife Gabriela are visiting the US from Albania, spending time at OCMC and with many of their supporters around the country. As they share updates about their work and ministries abroad, it becomes clear that everything points back to this central goal of building local eucharistic communities.
It is within these local eucharistic communities that the fullness of the Church resides and thrives. They are the setting where Orthodox Christians gather to worship God and support one another in their Christian lives. Nathan recently completed his doctoral dissertation on this subject, and together with Gabriela, he has been working to put it into practice in Albania.
The challenge in Albania, he shared with us, is that few people there have ever experienced living in a local eucharistic community. The reign of communism rendered Albania an atheist state for over four decades, and so the concept of religion is relatively novel for many. Since the fall of communism in the early ‘90s, however, Orthodox Christianity has been revitalized and regrown in Albania, and Nathan and Gabriela have been instrumental in that process.
Nathan and Gabriela have started cultivating the local Church by initiating various programs for adults, teens, and children. Nathan also teaches at the Resurrection of Christ seminary, instilling students with the values of the faith and empowering them to go out and support local eucharistic communities in Albania.
Over the next several months, Nathan and Gabriela will be visiting supporters and parishes throughout the country to not only update them but encourage them to become local eucharistic communities. Support of OCMC missionaries like the Hoppes not only benefits those in foreign countries, but also helps our parishes here in the US.
On Monday, June 14, the Hoppes appeared on our monthly OCMC Live interview series. If you didn’t have the chance to watch it yet, click below, and subscribe to be notified about future videos:
Click here to see the Hoppes’ page and to learn where they will be in the upcoming weeks. If you’re in any of these areas, join the presentation to meet and hear from them directly!