The Butterfly Effect: OCMC Agape Canisters Raise Two-Million Dollars for the Church Abroad

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


The Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas
8 East 79th Street, New York, NY 10021


February 7, 2007
Contact: Alex Goodwin, Communications Director
Phone: (904) 829-5132
Address: Orthodox Christian Mission Center
P.O. Box 4319
St. Augustine, FL 32085-4319

The Butterfly Effect: OCMC Agape Canisters Raise Two-Million Dollars for the Church Abroad

St. Augustine, FL – The clink, clink of pocket change deposited into those, never quite full enough, Plexiglas containers that stare up at us from the counter of our favorite fast food restaurant or convenience store is a sound that is familiar to many of us. For nearly twenty-years the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) has been collecting money with its own version of these anonymous donation receptacles, the Agape Canister. Have you ever wondered where that, good-deed-of-the-day, money actually ends up? Does the handful of silvers that we find at the bottom of a purse or amidst balls of pocket lint really feed the hungry, educate the poor, or heal the sick?

Ray Bradbury, in a 1952 short story shared the idea that one butterfly could have a far-reaching ripple effect on subsequent events. This idea was explored by theorist Edward Lorenz who, in a 1963 paper for the New York Academy of Sciences, coined the term “butterfly effect”. Mr. Lorenz’s theory stated that the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil creates a disturbance that could ultimately cause a tornado in Texas.

Though the metrological validity of Mr. Lorenz’s theory is unknown, when applied to pocket change, it reveals some very profound truths. In businesses from Santa Barbara, California to Bangor, Maine, the OCMC has been distributing Agape canisters throughout the United States. These canisters accumulate change that, when collected by volunteers known as Agape Partners, fund Church projects that complement the ministries of missionaries and mission priests in some of our world’s most impoverished countries.

Moved by the needs of children abroad, and feeling a strong desire to be involved in Orthodox missions, Alex Haimanis started OCMC’s Agape Canister Program with the blessing of former Mission Center Executive Director, and current Bishop of Xanthos, Dimitrios Couchell. As of last month Agape canisters had collected over two-million dollars in change since that first canister was displayed in 1988.

Over the years, Agape Canister donations have supported projects from clinics in Kenya to a feeding program in India. In 2006 alone, grants awarded from Agape Canister collections helped hundreds of children in Africa afford schooling. Donations in 2006 to Agape Canisters also facilitated the continued operation of substance abuse programs in Romania and Alaska, a soup kitchen in Albania, and an orphanage in Indonesia. This year Agape Canister monies will continue to fund scholarships for African children. Support will also continue for the aforementioned substance abuse programs, the soup kitchen and the orphanage. Additionally, however, a nursing home in Madagascar will be fully furnished and supplied as well.

With enough Agape Canisters placed in businesses throughout America, the winds of Orthodoxy can continue to blow across the face of the earth. In this torrent - the divine breath of God, more schools can be built, more mouths can be fed, and more lives can be saved. For it is with that same breath that God breathed physical life into His creation, and it was through the last breath that escaped the lips of His Son, on the cross, that we were given life eternal.