Monday, November 13, 2006
The Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas
8 East 79th Street, New York, NY 10021
19 November 2006
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off
everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance
the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
To the Most Reverend Clergy, Venerable Monastics and
The Devout Faithful of the Holy Orthodox Churches in the Americas.
Dearly Beloved in the Lord,
Everyday a miracle happens through the Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ and in the name of our Orthodox Christian faith. Everyday in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Africa, South Asia and North America, the love of Christ is tangibly demonstrated through the delivery of food and shelter and medical supplies following natural disasters. Everyday where there was once the scourge of war and hatred, homes are repaired, children are educated, and men and women recover their livelihoods. Everyday poor farmers are given tools to work their land and children are saved from the blight of HIV and AIDs.
Through the common will of the hierarchs of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) has been empowered to respond to our Lord's call, "to minister to those who are suffering and are in need throughout the world, sharing with them God's gifts of food, shelter, economic self-sufficiency and hope." Since its inception in 1992, IOCC has delivered more than $226 million in emergency aid and development programs in over 30 countries on behalf of the Orthodox faithful of this land.
In Russia, Romania, the Republic of Georgia, and the former Yugoslavia, IOCC is providing loans for small businesses, tractors and seeds for farmers, and empowering communities through capacity building with local organizations. In the Holy Land, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and Ethiopia, IOCC continues to provide job skills training and job creation, school building and repair, child nutrition programs, educational training, and HIV/AIDs awareness and prevention. And in the 2004 tsunami and 2005 U.S. hurricanes, IOCC delivered millions of dollars in emergency aid, rebuilding destroyed homes, providing trauma counseling, nutrition programs and livelihood recovery.
But IOCC can only continue its mission so long as the faithful members of our parishes believe that faith without works is dead. This is why we have chosen to set aside this Sunday before Thanksgiving as IOCC Sunday. While giving thanks to our Lord on this beautiful feast of Thanksgiving for the bounty with which we have been so richly blessed, we also encourage the faithful to sacrificially give to our brothers and sisters who are suffering and in need, both here and abroad.
Everyday, for nearly fifteen years, IOCC has run the race with endurance, feeding the hungry, rescuing the sick, clothing the naked, and giving hope to the hopeless. As your Spiritual Shepherds, we exhort you to show the depth of your faith by supporting this work. God himself has set this race before us. We urge you to throw off anything that would hinder you from transmitting God’s love and light to a world that is often dark and desperate.
We urge you to do this, even as we are running this race with you, our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Perfector of our faith.
+Archbishop DEMETRIOS, Chairman
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
+Metropolitan PHILIP, Vice Chairman
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
+Metropolitan CHRISTOPHER, Secretary
Serbian Orthodox Church in the USA and Canada
+Metropolitan NICHOLAS of Amissos, Treasurer
American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese in the USA
Orthodox Church in America
Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America and Canada
Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church
Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA
+Bishop ILIA of Philomelion
Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America