Denver, Colorado – Facing a global economic downturn not seen in generations, the Board of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) met at St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church in Greenwood Village, Colorado, for its annual Fall Board meeting.
The possible effects of a worsening economy on charitable giving weighed heavily on those gathered. With a new Missionary Training and Administrative building near completion, nearly 100 inquirers seeking long-term missionary assignment, and a growing demand for missionary witness around the world, the global missions ministries of OCMC are truly poised to reach new levels in 2009. Resources for this vital work of the North American Orthodox Churches, however, are needed now more than ever.
On Tuesday, November 18th, the Board’s Executive Committee, led by OCMC Board President Mr. Cliff Argue, OCMC Executive Director Fr. Martin Ritsi, and OCMC Associate Director Fr. David Rucker met while a Health Care Outreach Reception was held at St. Catherine. The reception featured presentations by OCMC Team Members Dr. Gregory Papadeas and Mrs. Susan Nelson. As the guests that gathered for the Health Care Reception learned about sharing Christ through ministries of healing, the Executive Committee was left to prayerfully discern how to overcome the current financial climate.
Following a beautiful Divine Liturgy, celebrated at St. Catherine Church by Fr. David Rucker, and OCMC Board Members Fr. John Chakos and Dcn. John Christakis on Wednesday, November 19th, the entire Board gathered for a full day of meetings. OCMC Board Member Fr. Matthew Tate read a greeting from His Beatitude, Metropolitan JONAH, the newly elected Primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). The Board in turn extended its congratulations and wishes for many years to His Beatitude. Board members who had traveled to Albania earlier in the year, including former OCMC Board President Mrs. Helen Nicozisis, Mrs. Cina Dasakalakis, and Mr. John Colis, shared their experiences. A presentation was given by OCMC Missionary Coordinator Dcn. James Nicholas on recruiting and retaining missionaries as the Board heard reports on 2008 accomplishments and 2009 operational planning. The afternoon hours were filled with a discussion on further articulating the mission and vision of the OCMC for the North American faithful. A day dedicated to prayer, pragmatism, and vision revealed a formula that will hopefully see the Mission Center through the challenges it now faces.
This hope was reinforced as the Board visited with His Eminence, Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver, during an evening reception at the Metropolis Center, and as many people attended a Missions Banquet hosted at the nearby Assumption Cathedral. The banquet, which was underwritten by generous contributions from OCMC Ambassador Dr. and Mrs. Nicholas Kyriazi, Dr. and Mrs. Gregory Papadeas, and Dr. William White. The blessing for the event was offered by Metropolitan Isaiah. During the banquet, former OCMC missionaries Driko and Christine Pappas relayed the importance of making disciples of all nations by sharing their missionary experiences. Several former OCMC missionaries and Team members were in attendance and recognized for their service. Fr. Evan Armatas, of St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church who coordinates the St. Nectarios Program in support of children’s education worldwide, presented OCMC with a check for $5000 to complete a school for a new Orthodox community in Lodwar, Kenya.
On Thursday, November 20th, following morning prayers, the 2008 Fall Board meeting concluded with a workshop by OCMC Communications Director Mr. Alex Goodwin on the Mission Center’s new internet initiative. This ministry is aimed at broadening awareness of missions through OCMC’s new website and the strategic utilization of media sharing and social networking technologies.
In many ways, Orthodox missions will be sailing uncharted waters in 2009. Through the efforts of people like OCMC Board Member and presiding priest at St. Catherine Fr. Louis Christopulos, the St. Catherine parish, the Organizing Committee who coordinated this Fall’s Board Meeting, and the Philoptocos chapters of the Assumption Cathedral and St. Catherine, the witness of the North American faithful will continue to grow. The Board, staff, missionaries, volunteers, and thousands of souls around the world yearning for Christ ask that you continue to remember OCMC and the work of Orthodox missions in your prayers.