St. Augustine, FL – The OCMC Board of Directors gathered at the Renaissance Resort at the World Golf Village on May 19 and 20 for their annual Spring Board Meeting. The occasion for this meeting, however, was of tremendous significance, as it immediately preceded the dedication of the new Archbishop Anastasios and Archbishop Demetrios Missionary Training and Administration Building.
On the evening of May 19, OCMC Board President Clifford Argue and OCMC Executive Director Fr. Martin Ritsi updated the board on the progress of OCMC’s current strategic plan and emerging mission fields in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Former Board members Bob Gremley and Dr. Spero Kinnas were also recognized for their contributions to the organization over the years.
As chairperson of the new building Dedication Committee, Helen Nicozisis reported that preparations for the dedication event had been completed. She offered sincere thanks to her fellow committee members, Board Members, and staff for their tireless efforts in welcoming the many hierarchs and guests from around the world who would share in the joy of the new building’s completion.
On the morning of the 20th, the Board received presentations from two of the Mission Center’s longest serving Missionary families, Nathan and Gabriela Hoppe and Floyd and Ancuta Frantz. They arrived from Albania and Romania to represent all OCMC Missionaries and Missionary Candidates during the dedication events.
Nathan shared that two of his former students at the seminary in Tirana, Albania have been elevated to serve as bishops. He also reported that the summer youth camps he and his wife Gabriela coordinate in Kosovo are enjoying increasing popularity. These camps are a ministry of love to children who suffered terribly during the war. These camps are part of the humanitarian and philanthropic work of the church and are not religious in nature.
Floyd reminded the board that alcoholism remains a significant issue in Romania and that the St. Dimitrie program that he directs has intervened in the lives of thousands of people who struggle with this debilitating disease. He also shared that the Protection of the Theotokos Day Center, which is directed by his wife Ancuta, maintains its wonderful record in preventing child abandonment by offering unwed mothers daycare, counseling, and employment services. Following his talk, Floyd presented the Board with a hand painted icon from the Church in Romania.
The OCMC staff was also given the opportunity to introduce themselves and offer presentations that detailed many of the Mission Center’s programs. The staff was honored to meet the Board they serve.
An afternoon session led by OCMC Board Treasurer Bill Birchfield revealed that, in spite of a difficult economic climate, support for the work of missions continues to grow among the Orthodox faithful of North America. Although the faithful have been generous so far, the need for increased development effort was stressed to insure adequate resources are provided to OCMC and it many programs throughout the rest of the year. One new initiative underway by the board is a “Friends of Missions” appeal.
The Board also welcomed its two newest members, former Missionary to Albania and Professor of Missions at Holy Cross Seminary, Fr. Luke Veronis of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and Dn. Andrew Rubis of the Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America.
As the annual Spring Board Meeting drew to a close, events for the dedication of the new building began – an occasion that represented an answer to prayer shared by all the Board Members, staff, and Missionaries who were in attendance.
The Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) is the official missions agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) dedicated to fulfilling Christ’s last command to make disciples of all nations.