Over a period of three days, from Nov. 19-21, history was made in Ghana when eleven local clergy gathered at the Archdiocese center in the capital city of Accra to participate in a virtual retreat on Stewardship conducted by OCMC team members in the United States. His Eminence Metropolitan Petros of Accra noted that this retreat was so important because it supports his clergy, who are on the “frontline” of leading their communities. In his welcoming address His Eminence stated, “The birth of our Lord celebrates stewardship,” reminding the participants of the greatest of all gifts that we receive – our Lord’s birth.
While the COVID-19 restrictions have temporarily halted in-person teams, including an earlier summer Ghana clergy retreat, OCMC has adapted by conducting virtual teams with members from the United States engaging in online instruction with Orthodox faithful overseas through video conferencing platforms. The US team consisted of Fr. Jerome Cwiklinski of Oceanside, CA, Fr. Robert Holet of Troy, VA, and Fr. Paul Jannakos of Orland Park, IL, who presented on the priestly role in Orthodox stewardship.
The concept of stewardship is relatively new to the clergy in Ghana. Fr. Joseph Kwame Labi, the event coordinator, noted, “The clergy need to be informed and motivated regarding stewardship and their role in this ministry. The Church cannot depend solely on external support. The clergy need to understand, ‘Why should parishes support ministers, ministry, administration, projects, etc.?’”
His Eminence also referenced the "gospel of prosperity," acknowledging that “Ghana is very "charismatic" and that certain “prosperity gospel” preachers make a lot of money by preying on the gullibility of poor and naïve people. His Eminence encouraged his clergy, saying that the motives of stewardship should always be gratitude for the gifts God has given us and using those gifts for His work, always with love, compassion and joy.
In Ghana many Orthodox feel isolated because the Orthodox Church is a minority religion, but the presentations reminded the clergy to apply their limited resources to continue offering a witness of the Orthodox Faith. They were reminded that their priestly witness is “in communion” with the Saints and rooted in Scripture.
One participant shared that “stewardship is a gift from God and must be used well, and it is not just for the priest, but for everyone.” Another shared how he now sees stewardship as a “mission of service,” and that he needs to always be ready to offer his service.
Mission Team Director Andrew Lekos joined with Fr. Kwame and thanked the Team members and all the clergy Ghana clergy who participated. Lekos also acknowledged other past team members who donated funds to help pay for the costs associated with this virtual event.
This Virtual Team, and the many others that are taking place around the world, are OCMC’s response to the needs that exist. Contact the OCMC Teams Department for more information about how you can participate on a Virtual Team. (904) 829 5132 ext. 141 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Note the Holy Metropolis of Accra includes in its jurisdiction the countries of Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali and Burkina Faso.