AMERICA OF MY HEART
USA OF MY HEART
The Department of Missions
& Evangelism in USA & Canada
ANTIOCHIAN ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN
ARCHDIOCESE OF NORTH AMERICA
The Department of Missions and Evangelism was established in 1988 to “Make America Orthodox,” in the words of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip of Blessed Memory. To fulfill that dream, the department endeavors to: 1) build new missions in North American cities of over 100,000 population which have no Orthodox Church of any jurisdiction; 2) respond to invitations of lay groups of Orthodox Christians who desire an English-speaking parish; 3) cultivate relationships with independent (generally Protestant) communities which desire to become Orthodox; 4) work with non-Orthodox pastors who desire to become Orthodox; 5) cooperate with College Ministry to develop mission parishes adjacent to major college campuses with no English-speaking Orthodox Church nearby; and 6) train and encourage Antiochian Orthodox priests and lay leaders to promote Orthodox Christian evangelism in their communities and begin new missions in nearby localities.
Since Metropolitan Philip founded this department 108 missions (excluding Western Rite parishes) have been established by the Antiochian Archdiocese. Of these, fifty-five have grown to full parishes. At present the department is developing missions in seven cities across the United States and Canada, and is exploring possibilities in several more.
Becoming Truly Human: the Spirit of Orthodox Christian Evangelism
by Sdn. Adam Lowell Roberts
Many of you may be familiar with the new Antiochian Archdiocese program Becoming Truly Human. Becoming Truly Human is a new evangelism program available to every parish in the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, and the ministry has been blessed to be shared with other jurisdictions.
While some may be weary of programs, this program has proven to be different. More than several priests and lay people have admitted they were wrong about their initial concerns. Others recognized right away that this program captures and shares the spirit of Orthodox evangelism. They applauded the Archdiocese for having a program which is effective, loving, Orthodox in spirit and nature, and above all helping our North American churches reconnect with our history of evangelism. We even have some overseas churches wanting to run the program.
Reflections on the Becoming Truly Human Program
“Becoming Truly Human” is an eight week outreach course offered by the Antiochian Archdiocese that uses the vehicle of small group discussions and hosted meals to share the love of Christ. The following two articles by a layman and priest, tell the story of how this program is changing lives.
~~For many years as a Protestant, I witnessed to others because I thought it was my duty. After all, we had been scripturally mandated by the Great Commission to do so, hadn’t we? Unfortunately, try though I might, I can’t remember many of the names or personal circumstances of those with whom I shared the Gospel. I mostly thought that my work was finished and the rest was up to God. (Read James Blackstock’s reflection.)
~~For many years I have felt that in my parish, and in Orthodox Christian parishes in general, there is a need for an evangelism program that is more than simply posting the time of our services and asking parishioners to invite friends to the liturgy. The Divine Liturgy is definitely very powerful and full of the Grace of God. However, I think that most of our parishioners hesitate to invite others to come to an Orthodox Liturgy without laying some ground work that they often do not feel equipped to do. (Read a reflection by Fr. Michael Byars.)
“Love for our Brethren”:
AFR Interview Introduces New Program
“Becoming Truly Human” is an eight week course offered by the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America to increase effective and relational evangelism, especially towards those who have no religion or church affiliation. The program uses the vehicle of small group discussions and shared meals to help guests to feel loved, listened to, and welcomed.
In a June 24, 2015 podcast, Ancient Faith Ministries President John Maddex interviewed Charles Ajalat, one of the program’s founding committee members, about the new outreach. Charles is an attorney, the former chancellor of the Antiochian Archdiocese, and a member of the Order of St. Ignatius. As one of the founders of the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) and Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS) North America, Charles is a veteran of start-up efforts, and in the interview he expressed his hopes that this new venture will help people “discuss questions…and then want to go forward into a catechism class with a priest.”