Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As you know, I recently participated in the 18th All-American Council (AAC) of the
Orthodox Church in America, held in Atlanta, Georgia. David Homyak also attended
as our parish lay delegate to the AAC and to the diocesan assembly and as the delegate
of our FOCA Chapter to the annual convention of the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians
in America which was convened at the same location in Atlanta prior to the convening
of the AAC. I’d like to share with you a few highlights of the six days I spent
The first scheduled event for which I was present was the Saturday evening Vespers
hosted by Metropolitan Alexios of the Greek Archdiocese at Annunciation Greek Orthodox
Cathedral. At the end of Vespers, beautifully sung by members of the FOCA and friends
and family and served by clergy of the local Orthodox Clergy Council, His Eminence
expressed his words of welcome and emphasized the ongoing need for all Orthodox Christians
in America to join together in the common work of proclaiming the Gospel. Vespers
was followed by a reception held in the cathedral’s fellowship hall.
The entire episcopate of the OCA concelebrated the Divine Liturgy the following morning
at which the delegates to the FOCA convention and hundreds of local faithful were
also present. That afternoon, the Holy Synod visited the Martin Luther King Center
and toured the museum, laid a wreath at Dr. and Mrs. King’s grave, and visited the
Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he was co-pastor, where he preached, and where his
funeral took place. We then traveled to Saint John the Wonderworker Church, Atlanta,
and were given a presentation on the good work of “Loaves and Fishes,” a program
sponsored by the parish which provides two meals a day to the homeless and also assists
them in re-uniting them with their families and re-integrating into society.
On Sunday evening, the Holy Synod joined the delegates to the FOCA convention for
a formal banquet. It was announced at this banquet that Andrew Romanov, a member
of our parish community, was among those selected to be a recipient of an FOCA scholarship—Congratulations,
Andrew! A special presentation was also made to His Eminence, Archbishop MICHAEL,
rector of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary. After several years of successful fundraising,
the FOCA presented the seminary with a check in the amount of $300,000.00 to assist
with providing housing for married seminarians. In accepting this generous gift,
His Eminence spoke movingly of the importance of supporting seminarians and their
families as they prepare to serve the Church and thus participate in expanding the
The annual diocesan assembly of the Diocese of the West was held on Monday morning.
Visit the diocesan website (dowoca.org) to read the minutes. On Monday evening,
after the Service of Prayer at the Opening of a Sacred Council, His Beatitude, Metropolitan
TIKHON offered his opening address, calling the clergy, monastics, and clergy of
the OCA to greater dedication in the work of expanding the Church’s mission.
On Tuesday morning, the proposed Statute of the Orthodox Church in America was formally
presented to the AAC for adoption. After discussion from the floor, the new Statute
was adopted with 97% of the assembled delegate voting in favor of the adoption. (http://oca.org/news/headline-news/aac-delegates-adopt-statute-revision-in-473-15-vote).
The AAC continued throughout the week with a resolution on financing the work of
the Church on the national level passing with wide support (http://oca.org/news/headline-news/delegates-pass-finance-resolution-by-vote-of-451-14-17).
At the heart of the Council’s time together was the daily celebration of the Divine
Liturgy, Vespers, and Akathists to the Sitka Icon of the Mother of God, Saint Anna,
and All Saints of North America. The Holy Synod, joined by His Beatitude ONUFRY,
Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine, and other guest bishops, concelebrated the
Divine Liturgy on Thursday morning. That evening, Metropolitan ONUFRY addressed
the formal closing banquet. His address may be read here: http://oca.org/news/oca-news/aac-address-of-metropolitan-onufry-greetings-from-archbishop-leo.
Throughout the week, youth programs were held which enjoyed the participation of
about 100 young people from throughout North America. The bishops joined them for
breakfast on Thursday morning and participated with them in an exercise aimed at
getting to better know some of the saints of our Church.
I encourage you to visit the OCA website (www.oca.org) to read more about the work
and activities of the AAC, to see photos, to listen to the sessions, and to view
videos on what transpired throughout the week. This wonderful, God-blessed gathering
was an expression of the Church in its fullness as bishops, priests, deacons, monastics,
and lay faithful gathered together to give thanks to God, to ask His blessing upon
the work of our Church, and to discuss and decide how we, as the Orthodox Church
in America, can best proclaim the Gospel in this land.
Again, please visit the OCA website to learn more about the work of the All-American
Council. It is a model of how we, here at Saints Peter and Paul Church in Phoenix,
can also expand the mission—our mission—of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ.
With love in the Lord,
Commemoration of the Miracle of the Archangel Michael at Colossae
The Miracle of the Holy Chief Commander Archangel Michael at Colossae. In Phrygia,
not far from the city of Hieropolis, in a place called Cheretopos, there was a church
named for the Archangel Michael, built over a miraculous spring.
This church was built by a certain inhabitant of the city of Laodicia in gratitude
to God for healing his mute daughter. The holy Chief Commander Michael appeared to
this man in a dream and revealed to him that his daughter would receive the gift
of speech after drinking from the water of the spring. The girl actually did receive
healing and began to speak. After this miracle, the father and his daughter and all
their family were baptized. In fervent gratitude, the father built the church in
honor of the holy Chief Commander Michael. Not only did Christians begin to come
to the spring for healing, but also pagans. In so doing, many of the pagans turned
from their idols and were converted to the faith in Christ.
At this church of the holy Chief Commander Michael, a certain pious man by the name
of Archippus served for sixty years as church custodian. By his preaching and by
the example of his saintly life he brought many pagans to faith in Christ. With the
general malice of that time towards Christians, and especially against Archippus,
the pagans thought to destroy the church in order to prevent people from coming to
that holy place of healing, and at the same time kill Archippus.
Toward this end they made a confluence of the Lykokaperos and Kufos Rivers and directed
its combined flow against the church. St Archippus prayed fervently to the Chief
Commander Michael to ward off the danger. Through his prayer the Archangel Michael
appeared at the temple, and with a blow of his staff, opened a wide fissure in a
rock and commanded the rushing torrents of water to flow into it. The temple remained
unharmed. Seeing such an awesome miracle, the pagans fled in terror. Archippus and
the Christians gathered in church glorified God and gave thanks to the holy Archangel
Michael for the help. The place where the rivers plunged into the fissure received
the name “Chonae”, which means “plunging.”
The Chudov (“of the Miracle”) monastery in Moscow is named for this Feast.
ARCHPASTORAL MESSAGE OF HIS BEATITUDE
Beginning of the Ecclesiastical
The Day of Prayer for the Creation
September 1, 2015
To the Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox
Church in America:
On September 1, 1989, the late Ecumenical Patriarch Demetrios I
issued the first message from the Ecumenical Throne on the environment. With his
proclamation and the establishment of September 1, the first day of the Ecclesiastical
New Year, as the Day of Prayer for the Creation, the Church again seeks to remind
us, as Mary reminded Martha, of the one needful thing - life and unity with Our Lord,
God and Savior, Jesus Christ. In that statement Patriarch Demetrios I reminds us
that the holy fathers of the Church teach that, "Man is the prince of creation, endowed
with the privilege of freedom. Being partaker simultaneously of the material and
the spiritual world, he was created in order to refer creation back to the Creator in
order that the world may be saved from decay and death."
In St Ephrem the Syrian's
work "Hymns on Paradise" we are given yet another guide to how we might come into
that unity and life in Christ. St Ephrem tells us that God's two witnesses, or pointers,
are, "Nature, through man's use of it, [and] Scripture, through his reading it."
the summer draws to a close and children go back to, or away to school for the first
time, and begin again a new academic year ecclesiastical year, let us, being reminded
by the pointers to Christ as mentioned by St Ephrem, take a moment to turn to the
one needful thing in praise, worship and thanksgiving for the creation and all the
blessing bestowed upon us by our merciful Creator.
It is my prayer that the parishes, Sunday Schools,
Youth Groups and other organizations of the Orthodox Church in America will take
up this time around September 1 to celebrate the Day of Prayer for the Creation.
Our Department of Christian Education has prepared an excellent Study and Activity
Guide for young people titled, "The Earth is the Lord's", which can be found at www.oca.org.
my archpastoral blessings and love
Archbishop of Washington
All America and Canada