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Blessed Name's Day to Archbishop Joseph!

Antiochian Archdiocese - Sat, 2015/05/02 - 12:00pm

We extend our prayers and love to His Eminence, Archbishop Joseph of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West, and locum tenens of the Diocese of Eagle River and the Northwest, on the occasion of his Name's Day on May 4, 2014 (St. Joseph of Arimathea, Second Sunday after Pascha). May God grant him many years!

Learn more about Joseph of Arimathea (Come and See Icons)

Read about Archbishop Joseph

Visit the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West

Visit the Diocese of Eagle River and the Northwest

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Register Now: St. Thekla & St. Raphael Pilgrimage, Sept. 26-28

Antiochian Archdiocese - Mon, 2014/07/21 - 7:13am

Download the Pilgrimage brochure and registration form

Registration is open for the Annual St. Thekla & St. Raphael Pilgrimage, with His Grace Bishop Thomas of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic presiding. Lodging for both adults and children is available for the weekend, which is an annual event at the Antiochian Village Conference Center and camp in Bolivar, PA.

"Did you know that the Antiochian Village is one of the few places places in the United States where you can visit the grave and shrine of a saint of the Church?" notes Bishop Thomas. Saint Raphael of Brooklyn, the first Orthodox bishop to be consecrated in the United States, reposed in the Lord in 1915 and was later canonized by the Orthodox Church in America in 2000. Appropriately, since St. Raphael is buried on the grounds of Antiochian Village, the pilgrimage includes a Service of Supplication to him. Other activities include small group workshops, a panel discussion with Bishop Thomas, a special movie showing, and the full cycle of liturgical services.

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July 20, 2014 Orthodoxy Live

Ancient Faith Radio - Sun, 2014/07/20 - 8:31pm
Fr. Theodore Dorrance joins Fr. Evan tonight to take calls on topics including the interpretation of New Testament accounts that vary from Gospel to Gospel, finding the right Orthodox parish, Christian persecution, and more.
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CD Features Chants for the Feast of the Dormition

Antiochian Archdiocese - Sun, 2014/07/20 - 4:03pm

An audio CD of the hymns of Great Vespers, the Lamentations, and the Orthros hymns for the Feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos has been made available in anticipation of the August 15, 2014 feast day. Chanted by Dr. Sam N. Cohlmia, Protopsaltis of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America at St. George Cathedral in Wichita, KS, the CD is available for $15.00 by contacting Dr. Cohlmia at his email address.

Read an interview with Dr. Cohlmia, and more details about the CD.

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St. George Cathedral Raises $100,000 for Charity

Antiochian Archdiocese - Fri, 2014/07/18 - 7:16pm

"Feed My Sheep"

Cathedral Dean Fr. Fouad Saba reports that in this last year, St. George Cathedral in Coral Gables, FL heard loud and clear this call of the Lord. In less than 10 months, the Diocese of Miami and the Southeast's Cathedral has collected and distributed near $100,000.00 in monetary aid and supplies. Some of the recipients include:

  • IOCC (relief in Syria and Middle East)
  • Al-Kafaat Foundation
  • Miami Rescue Mission
  • Children's Home Society
  • Hope for Women Society
  • Children's Relief Fund (Lebanon and Palestine)
  • IOCC (Hygiene Kits)
  • Orphans in Syria (Antiochian Women Annual Project
  • Miami Department of Children Services
  • Food for Hungry People Program
  • Special Olympics (Archdiocese record collection)
  • Local School (200 Backpacks)
  • Local homeless shelters
  • Local needy families (Good Samaritan Program)


"Whatever you did to the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:40).

Comments Fr. Fouad, "This is the work of the Gospel. This is a great achievement, but the Gospel is not satisfied. We must do more. It has been said, 'charity starts at home,' but this is not how Christ taught and this is not what Christ expects from His Church. We pray God will enable us to do more for those around us and those absent from among us."

Learn more about the work of St. George Cathedral.

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Metropolitan Joseph Speaks at the 2014 Clergy Symposium

Antiochian Archdiocese - Fri, 2014/07/18 - 6:22pm

At the closing banquet of the 2014 Clergy Symposium, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America, gave a speech including his initial vision for the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America (beginning at 11:20 in the recorded audio). These remarks are available as an audio recording from Ancient Faith Radio. A full written transcription is being prepared.

His Eminence says in part:

Tonight, I am going to utilize my time by sharing with you my vision for the future of this Archdiocese. I truly believe that each and every one of us is an important and integral part of this body. We are grateful for everything that our beloved Metropolitan Philip of thrice-blessed memory created over the past 48 years. We humbly accept the fruit of his labor, as well as the labor of the faithful who worked alongside him and the legacy upon which we will now build. We have serious work ahead of us. We don’t have time to waste. ...

Although we begin a new chapter, let me remind you that we are not starting from the beginning. As good stewards, we will only continue the work with which we have been entrusted, and my expectation is, that we continue to work as a team. … We are working together. We are one Body, and this is what unity means. 

As for myself, I promise you that every decision that is required of me will come by way of prayer, deliberation, and by the thorough consideration of all pertinent information. I can assure you that I will be acutely attentive to things requiring any significant decision, praying first for guidance in all matters. You need to know that I take very seriously that which our ecclesiology teaches. For direction, I will rely on St. Ignatius of Antioch. His vision for the Church is a oneness of mind.   

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Institute for Orthodox Christian Thought and Culture at Eastern University

Antiochian Archdiocese - Fri, 2014/07/18 - 11:41am

Dr. Gary Jenkins, a member of St. Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church in Emmaus, PA, has been teaching history at Eastern University in the greater Philadelphia area, for 20 years.

Lately, he's been feeling called to do something even bigger. After much prayer and consultation with hierarchs and clergy throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, he has proposed the creation of an Institute for Orthodox Christian Thought and Culture at Eastern University.

Eastern is a fully accredited, Christian university with 35 majors and about 1,500 undergraduate students on its beautiful campus in suburban Philadelphia.

The proposed Institute would offer a minor for Orthodox students and serve as a hub for their spiritual, academic, and professional development.

"Orthodox Christian students will flourish at Eastern University, especially were we to launch this Institute," Dr. Jenkins said. "The minor in Orthodox thought and culture, along with a vibrant Orthodox community of learners, joined with the liberal arts education of an established Christian university, will provide students with the habits and virtues of mind and heart needed for leadership in whatever vocation they choose."

By nesting within an established university, the Institute can focus exclusively on providing a robust and holistic Orthodox formation for its students, even as the students avail themselves of the full resources of the larger university and complete their degrees in a wide variety of fields.

Relationship to the Church
Although it would be a program of Eastern University, a private school with an interdenominational Christian student body, the Institute is in the process of forming a Pan-Orthodox advisory board, including hierarchs, clergy, and laity.

Initial responses from within the Orthodox Church have been very positive.

"St. Basil the Great had a vision of a community that has at its center the Eucharist. The community included Christian schools, Christian hospitals, all of which got their strength and power from the Eucharist," Rt. Rev. Bishop Thomas (Joseph), Ed.D., of the Antiochian Archdiocese said. "It is with this in mind that I strongly suggest that you take a serious look at the Institute for Orthodox Thought and Culture at Eastern University. This project has my support and my prayers."

Dr. Jenkins is particularly optimistic about the Institute's future because of the large network of active parishes in the Mid-Atlantic region from across all Orthodox jurisdictions.

"Studies show that most college students stay close to home," Dr. Jenkins said. "Within only 100 miles of Eastern University's campus there are 286 Orthodox parishes. Priests and parents at many of these parishes have already told us that they would be very interested in sending students to an Orthodox program of this nature and location. We've even heard from parishes in Alaska, Texas, and Maine!"

Where Things Stand Today
Discussions with senior leadership at Eastern University are progressing well. The university is seriously interested in creating the Institute but wants to confirm its viability and develop a careful plan before making a formal decision.

"Right now, we are seeking to clearly discern Orthodox student interest and financial support for this potential Institute at EU," Dr. Robert Duffett, president of Eastern University, said. "Our first goal is to raise the funds needed to hire a professional higher ed consultant, who will conduct a thorough feasibility study and help us make informed decisions. Once the study is complete, we will evaluate the results and decide if and how to proceed. Our hope is that the study will position us to move forward with a plan that leads to long-term success for all involved."

Even in these early stages, it seems that the Orthodox community is interested in seeing Dr. Jenkins' idea become a reality. More than 260 people have filled out an online survey on the Institute's website, with the vast majority reporting that their parish is likely to send students. Respondents represent 128 different Orthodox parishes: Antiochian, Greek, OCA, Carpatho-Russian, Ukrainian, ROCOR, Bulgarian, and Serbian. Individuals from a few Oriental Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic churches have also expressed interest, as well as inquirers and sympathetic Christians from a variety of Protestant backgrounds.

Next Steps
The most important next step, according to Dr. Jenkins, is to raise about $35,000 to fund the feasibility study.

"A visionary donor has already stepped forward with a $10,000 lead gift," Dr. Jenkins said. "Now, we as an Orthodox community need to step up to the plate. This is an incredible opportunity, a real blessing from God, that could catapult Orthodox higher education forward a generation, practically overnight. But it won't happen unless we act."

The proposed institute has real potential for long-term success if EU and the Orthodox community work together, according to both Dr. Jenkins and President Duffett.

"We look at this as a true partnership," President Duffett said, "and an opportunity to build each other up in Christ. If the consultant's study shows that this venture is viable, Orthodox Christians can expect a center at EU that speaks to their real concerns, where Orthodox Christians are doing the teaching and advising, with the input and advice of Orthodox hierarchs and clergy. At the same time, for EU to house this proposed institute, we need the clear financial support of Orthodox donors. We can't do it without your help."

How You Can Help

1. Visit the website.

2. Take the survey.

3. Contact us if you'd like to give.

4. Spread the word on Facebook.

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Metropolitan Joseph’s Vision

Ancient Faith Radio - Fri, 2014/07/18 - 6:54am
At the closing banquet of the 2014 Clergy Symposium, His Eminence Joseph, Metropolitan of New York and North America gave his vision for the Antiochian Archdiocese of All North America.
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Western Rite Conference

Ancient Faith Radio - Thu, 2014/07/17 - 3:22pm
Fr. Edward Hughes and Fr. John Fenton join us to talk about the Western Rite of the Orthodox Church as well as an upcoming conference where you can learn more and experience Western Rite services.

http://www.antiochian.org/western-rite
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Doxacon Seattle 2014

Ancient Faith Radio - Thu, 2014/07/17 - 1:31pm
On a new "Ancient Faith Presents," Bobby Maddex interviews David Jennings and Tanya Keenan, the organizers of Doxacon Seattle 2014, an Orthodox conference dedicated to science fiction and fantasy in all of their various forms.
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New Podcast - On Social Justice

Ancient Faith Radio - Wed, 2014/07/16 - 12:05pm
As Orthodox Christians, we are called to act in love towards those scarred by the world’s injustice. This monthly podcast explores biblical and patristic writings dealing with social justice and applies them to current situations around the world. Listen here as host Mariam Youssef explains what she means by social justice and how we can participate in it.
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Remembering Archbishop Victor Abo-Assaly

Antiochian Archdiocese - Wed, 2014/07/16 - 9:12am

Archbishop Victor Abo-Assaly led the Antiochian Archdiocese from 1924 until his death from cancer in 1934. He is remembered as a saintly leader, one who ministered with prayer and great kindness. In a July 14, 2014 article by Matthew Namee for The Society for Orthodox Christian History in the Americas (SOCHA), readers are reminded of his legacy. Mr. Namee also requests that readers speak with senior members of their parishes in order to glean memories of Archbishop Victor, so that they can be recorded for posterity. Those who know senior citizens who can share memories or photographs, are encouraged to contact Matthew or other members of SOCHA.

"He is is at risk of being forgotten by his spiritual descendants," writes Mr. Namee, since "anyone who would remember him is probably at least 85 or 90 years old now. We've no doubt lost more memories than we can save, but let's get to work now and save what we can while there is still time." 

SOCHA exists to promote the study of the history of the Orthodox Christian Church in the New World; to collect source materials and make them available to researchers and scholars; to disseminate historical information to the public; and to encourage networking among those engaged in the study of American Orthodox history.

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IOCC Ministers in the Middle East: Gaza and Syria

Antiochian Archdiocese - Tue, 2014/07/15 - 5:13pm

The International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) continues to alleviate the suffering caused by the ongoing strife in the Middle East, both in the new conflict that has arisen in Gaza, and in Syria, where people have lived for several years under civil war. (Donate through the IOCC's online portal.)

In the Gaza Strip, the most intense violence in nearly two years has claimed over 100 lives, including 23 children, injured more than 800 people, leaving families with damaged and destroyed homes. IOCC representatives are assessing the emerging humanitarian needs of those caught in the conflict, notes the article "IOCC Mobilizes to Provide Urgent Relief for Families Caught in Gaza Conflict."

An article about malnourished Syrian children in Lebanon's refugee camps notes that "since January, IOCC has screened more than 13,000 Syrian refugee children for malnutrition and provided treatment to those in need of emergency nutrition. IOCC's health workers are also taking preventive measures with new mothers...by counseling them on the importance of emergency nutrition and breastfeeding for their young children."

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Archbishop Demetrios Congratulates Metropolitan Joseph

Antiochian Archdiocese - Tue, 2014/07/15 - 10:49am

In a letter dated July 3, 2014, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America congratulated His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph on his election as head of the Antiochian Archdiocese.

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocse of N. America
P.O. Box 5238
Englewood, NJ 07631-5238

Your Eminence and Beloved Brother in Christ, Metropolitan Joseph,

I greet you in the grace and peace of the Lord and I congratulate you upon hearing the joyous news of the election by the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Antioch of Your Eminence as the Metropolitan of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.

More than three months have passed since the faithful of the Antiochian Church in America were saddened by the great loss of the falling asleep in the Lord of their spiritual leader, Metropolitan Philip. Today, I believe that this precious flock rejoices as they receive the announcement of your election. I am most confident that through the God-given gifts and natural talents that Your Eminence possesses you will continue to shepherd these holy people of God for years to come.

Moreover, as the presiding hierarch of the Church of Antioch in the United States, Your Eminence also serves as the First Vice-Chairman of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America. I very much look forward to increasing the work of our Assembly through close cooperation with you and the rest of the member hierarchs.

Your Eminence, please allow me to extend to you, once again, my heartfelt fraternal congratulations on your election. It is my prayer that you will continue to serve the Church with the sacrificial love of Christ, as you have done for so many years as a dedicated and faith filled hierarch of the Church. I very much look forward to the day of your enthronement, where I will be able to proclaim, along with the rest of the Church: AXIOS!

Your brother and concelebrant in Christ,

+ Demetrios
Archbishop of America

View PDF of letter

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The Institute for Orthodox Thought and Culture

Ancient Faith Radio - Tue, 2014/07/15 - 10:17am
Fr. Andrew Damick interviews Dr. Gary Jenkins about the proposed Institute for Orthodox Thought and Culture at Eastern University in Pennsylvania. Please complete the survey to help them launch this program in the fall of 2015.
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Metropolitan Joseph Presides Over 18th Biennial Clergy Symposium

Antiochian Archdiocese - Mon, 2014/07/14 - 12:19pm

The 18th Biennial Antiochian Archdiocesan Clergy Symposium, sponsored by the Antiochian House of Studies, is taking place at the Heritage and Learning Center at the Antiochian Village in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, from July 14-18, 2014. This will be a historic Symposium, representing the newly-elected Metropolitan Joseph's first opportunity to greet all of the clergy of the Archdiocese. 

Priests and deacons of the Antiochian Archdiocese, in addition to invited laity, will be attending lectures and forums relevant to the theory and practice of Orthodox ministry within the context of the spiritual and historical roots of the Church. This year's theme, "...for the sick and the suffering": Medicine, Theology, Healing, will be explored by a variety of speakers.

John Maddex of Ancient Faith Ministries is at the Village, and preparing audio recording of many of the presentations. Follow along at this special section of Ancient Faith Radio. Written transcriptions of several talks are planned as well.

A photo gallery of the Symposium is available here.

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Metropolitan Tikhon Offers Congratulations to Metropolitan Joseph

Antiochian Archdiocese - Mon, 2014/07/14 - 12:00pm

In a letter dated July 10, 2014, reports oca.org, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon of the Orthodox Church in America congratulated the newly elected His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.

July 10, 2014

His Eminence Joseph
Archbishop of New York
Metropolitan of All North America
P.O. Box 5238
Englewood, NJ 07631-5238

Your Eminence,

Greetings to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

It is with great joy that we congratulate Your Eminence on your election as the Metropolitan of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.

It is our hope and expectation that during the course of your leadership within the Antiochian Archdiocese we will continue to build upon the decades of common work for the glory of God. May the Orthodox Church in America and the Antiochian Archdiocese journey together, inspired by the shared vision of Orthodox mission in America and committed to unity in Orthodox ministry and witness. We look forward to greeting Your Eminence with brotherly love in person.

We pray that God will generously endow you with gifts of strength and wisdom and clarity of vision. We rejoice with the Church of Antioch and the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America. Axios!

Your brother in Christ,

+ Tikhon
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada

Read article on oca.org

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IOCC Mobilizes To Provide Urgent Relief For Families Caught In Gaza Conflict

IOCC News - Fri, 2014/07/11 - 8:30pm
In this past week, the most intense violence in nearly two years has claimed over 100 lives, including 23 children, injured more than 800 people, and left families with damaged and destroyed homes in the Gaza Strip. International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is in Gaza, assessing the emerging humanitarian needs of those caught in the conflict. IOCC established its humanitarian presence in Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank in 1997, when it began to provide relief for the most vulnerable in times of conflict and increased isolation, with the distribution of medicine, medical supplies, and hygiene and school kits. Working in cooperation with the local Orthodox Church, ecumenical partners, and other relief partners, IOCC soon focused its efforts on improving the lives of the region's most vulnerable groups - particularly women, children, youth and the elderly ...

Statement of the July 2014 Meeting of the Holy Synod of Antioch

Antiochian Archdiocese - Fri, 2014/07/11 - 8:35am

The following official translation has been provided by the Patriarchate of Antioch:

The Third Ordinary Session of the Holy Synod of Antioch was held between 1 and July 4, 2014. His Beatitude Patriarch John X presided over the meeting, with the participation of Their Eminences, the Metropolitans: Spiridon (Archdiocese of Zahleh and dependencies), Georges (Archdiocese of Mount Lebanon and dependencies), Youhanna (Archdiocese of Lattakia and dependencies), Elias (Archdiocese of Beirut and dependencies), Elia (Archdiocese of Hama and dependencies), Elias (Archdiocese of Tyre, Sidon and dependencies), Antonio (Archdiocese of Mexico, Venezuela and dependencies), Sergios (Archdiocese of Chile), Damaskinos (Archdiocese of Brazil and dependencies), Saba (Archdiocese of Houran and All Jabal Al Arab), Paul (Archdiocese of Australia and New Zealand), Georges (Archdiocese of Homs and dependencies), Silouan (Archdiocese of Buenos Aires and all Argentina), Basilos (Archdiocese of Akkar and dependencies), Ephrem (Archdiocese of Tripoli, El- Koura and dependencies), Ignatius (Archdiocese of France, Western and Southern Europe) and Isaac (Archdiocese of Germany and Central Europe). 

Also, in attendance were Their Eminences, the Archbishops: Niphon (Saykali) and Joseph (Zehlawi), and Their Graces, the Bishops: Moses (El Khoury), Louka (El Khouri), Ghattas (Hazim), Alexander (Mofarrej), Nicolas (Baalbaki), Ignatius (Semaan), Athanasios (Fahd), Dimitri (Cherbak), Elie (Toumeh), Constantine (Kayal), John (Haykal), Romanos (Daoud), John (Abdallah), Nicolas (Ozone), Ephrem (Maalouli) the Patriarchal Vicar and Secretary the Holy Synod, and Economos Fr. George Dimas the Record-Keeper of the Holy Synod. His Eminence Metropolitan Paul (Yazigi) Aleppo was also present in the prayers and invocations of the Synod Fathers, despite his absence caused by his abduction.

In the opening session of the Holy Synod of Antioch, the Synod Fathers welcomed with great joy Their Beatitudes the Antiochian Patriarchs: Mar Bechara Botros Al-Rai, Ignatius Ephrem II Karim, Gregorios III Laham, and Ignace Youssef III Younan, along with their accompanying bishops. The prelates discussed together ways to allow them to discover the depths of their unity in Christ, and to strengthen the witness of the Christian presence in the Antiochian scope. This witness is based on the evangelical spirit, and is subject to the requirements of human relationships based on selfless love. This common endeavor seeks to preserve the well-being of the suffering Middle Easterners and their prosperity. Thus, they decided to create a joint commission for the purpose of stimulating dialogue and cooperation between the Antiochian churches and preparing a joint action plan. This plan will be presented to the churches in order to discuss its implementation in the Antiochian scope. 

The Synod Fathers reviewed the recommendations presented by the General Antiochian Conference held in Balamand between 25 and 29 June 2014. They offered thanks to the Lord God for the success of this Conference during which the faithful were given the opportunity to discuss several issues with their spiritual fathers and hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches in a filial spirit of love, and in an atmosphere of openness and affability. The Synod Fathers commended the spiritual vigilance of the faithful, their commitment to their Church matters, and their labor in the field of the Lord in a cooperative spirit of love. The Synod members decided to form a synodal commission in order to study these recommendations and submit the results to the Holy Synod. 

The Synod Fathers were informed of the decision of His Eminence Metropolitan Constantine (Papastephano), Metropolitan of Baghdad, Kuwait, the Arabian Peninsula and dependencies, to resign from leading his Archdiocese. The Fathers accepted his resignation, and thanked His Eminence for all his efforts and services for the Archdiocese. They prayed to the Lord God to strengthen him and give him many blessings in his old age. Furthermore, His Beatitude gave the Synod Fathers a detailed presentation on the visit he made to this Archdiocese during which he met the faithful in the Kingdom of Bahrain and in the United Arab Emirates. In this visit, His Beatitude had the opportunity to see their pastoral needs and was able to meet with the leaders of their parishes. The faithful have shown all readiness to stimulate and strengthen the Antiochian Orthodox presence in these countries. In this context, the Synod Fathers decided to review the geographical composition of the Archdiocese which was reconstituted as follows: 
1. The Archdiocese of Baghdad, Kuwait and dependencies, covering Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman; 
2. The Patriarchal Vicariate of the Kingdom of Bahrain; 
3. The Patriarchal Vicariate of the Emirate of Qatar; 
4. The Patriarchal Vicariate of the United Arab Emirates. 

Similarly, the Synod Fathers listened to a detailed presentation given by His Beatitude about his recent irenic visit to the Russian Orthodox Church, and the visit's main ecclesiastical and civil aspects. 

The members of the Holy Synod also discussed the situation in the Archdiocese of New York and All North America whose metropolitan seat has been vacant, since the repose of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip (Saliba) of Thrice Blessed Memory. Subsequently, they elected in an extraordinary session His Eminence Joseph (Zehlawi) as Metropolitan of New York and all North America. The fathers sent their best greetings to all their faithful in this Archdiocese, congratulating them for the election of their new Archpastor. They also conveyed their best wishes to the new Metropolitan, praying to the Lord God to bless His service at the Divine Altar of the Lord. 

The Synod members discussed the importance of the upcoming Great Pan-orthodox Council which is scheduled to take place in 2016. They emphasized the importance of the testimony of Orthodox unity in the world today, and the need to get over all obstacles that prevent the course of the council's success. 

In recognition of Archbishop Niphon (Saykali)'s pastoral labor, and in tribute to his role in the expansion of ties with the Russian Orthodox Church and in consolidating the Antiochian presence in the Russian scope, the synod decided to dignify him by granting him the honorary title of "Metropolitan of Chehba (Philipopolis)." 

The Synod Fathers contemplated the pain and sufferings of the Syrian people. They heard a report of the visit of His Beatitude to the city Maaloula, and then to the ruined Archdiocese of Homs. They were informed of the charitable and relief work being led and conducted by the Orthodox Church in Syria. Given the magnitude of the circumstances that struck the people and their Church, and the tragedy and damage that have befell both the human and the stone, sparing neither monasteries nor places of worship, the Synod Fathers have beseeched their faithful to remain attached to their land and not to abandon it. They asked them to remain steadfast, since their presence in this land is a witness of Christ's conquering death and His Holy Resurrection. They admonished them to turn to God, and not be in despair, because God is with us like dew in the middle of flames. In these difficult times, God cures our many injuries, and soothes our great pain. 

The Synod Fathers also deplored the silence of the world on the terrorism that affects the Syrian people and disfigures the dignity of the human person, whether by kidnappings, various tortures and forced population displacement. They called on the international community and the living human consciousness to stop acting as just spectators of these afflictions, inviting them to take the initiative to work seriously for ending the crisis and allowing the return of refugees to their homes and villages, and the freedom of all abducted people: the nuns and priests, as well as the two metropolitans of Aleppo, John (Ibrahim) and Paul (Yazigi) that have been kidnapped since more than 14 months. Their abduction is in itself a precedent that has no equivalent in the history of this East. It has ravaged human rights and the rights of groups, amid a global and regional indifference. 

Lebanon was also present in the discussions of Synod members. They called on all parties concerned to speed up and fill the constitutional vacuum which occurred in the Presidency of the Republic. The quick election of a president avoids Lebanon the dangers which threaten it in the midst of regional changes underway in the Middle East, impacting Lebanon as well. They have called on leaders to jump over their factional disputes and narrow paths policies in order to work in loyalty for the development of their people and its prosperity. They confirmed the need to fight criminal acts and terrorists. 

The Synod Fathers also prayed for the country of Iraq which is also in crisis. They have invited the world to turn its attention to the sufferings of the people who endured the plagues of war for decades now. They called men of good will to work for the unity of this country, the development of its citizens, and for the preservation of the Christian presence in it. 

The Synod Fathers also turned to the resisting Palestine whose children continue to be brought every day to the slaughter, while the world hardened its heart and blocked its ears and closed its eyes in order not to see, or hear, or understand the continuous tragedy of the Palestinian people who is killed, removed from their houses, and forcibly displaced and desecrated. The Synod Fathers ask the world to work seriously and quickly to find a quick and fair solution to this issue which remains a bleeding wound in humanity. 

The Fathers also congratulated their Muslim brothers in the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan, asking God to send down His peace upon them and their countries, so that they can overcome this terrible time. They reaffirmed the importance of strengthening the bond that unites us all, in order to work against the dangers that are befalling us, and to rebuild our countries, physically and humanly, on the basis of Divine values. 

In conclusion, the members of the Holy Synod expressed their joy in seeing the Christian witness given by the faithful throughout the Antiochian scope, especially in the Archdioceses of Europe, Australia and the Americas. The Fathers wish to remind them that they are called to be “the salt of the earth and the leaven that leavens all the bread.” This is achieved through their involvement in the civic work of their homelands, working in the service of all humans beyond race or religious affiliation, through formulating policies which go beyond the present conditions, incarnating the Lord’s sovereignty in thought and life.

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Meet Be the Bee’s Steven Christoforou!

Ancient Faith Radio - Thu, 2014/07/10 - 3:43pm
Ancient Faith Radio is at the GOA Clergy/Laity Congress in Philadelphia and while there we ran into Steven Christoforou, host of the very popular youth video cast - Be the Bee!
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