If you have been following the news recently, you will know that the Holy Orthodox Church is under attack from various factions within its own ranks. These include the Patriarch of Alexandria Athenagoras, who is seeking to change the sacrament of Holy Baptism and the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), who have been distributing aid in Gaza and other areas. As you will learn, the IOCC is committed to the needs of the saints, and is working hard to promote the church’s mission of evangelization.
One of the most important aspects of the Orthodox Church is its mission. Its missionary activities are conducted all over the world. The most famous examples are those in Asia, but they are not limited to this part of the globe.
A good example of a missionary effort is the American Orthodox Church (AOC), founded in 1889 by Christians in the United States. Eventually, the organization rapproched with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria. This made an impression on Christians in the United States and beyond.
In 1896, Innocent Figurovsky became the mission head. He oversaw the construction of a printing press, orphanage, rest home, and two new chapels.
Another missionary feat was the translation of a Russian-Chinese dictionary. The mission also left a lasting impression on China. Chinese Orthodox Christians were counted in the thousands by 1914.
The earliest Orthodox presence in the United States was in the west coast. The area between the Volga and Alaska was the target of the mission.
Patriarch Athenagoras’ decision to change the sacrament of Holy Baptism
Some concerned orthodox Christians are upset about Patriarch Athenagoras’ decision to change the sacrament of Holy Baptism. This sacrament is used in the Orthodox Church to initiate a person into the Orthodox faith. However, this is not the only way to receive a non-orthodox Christian into the Orthodox fold.
The Ecumenical Councils have made clear that they accept a person into the Orthodox Church on the basis of a confession of Orthodox Faith. If a person is in need of a correction of their errors, the Church will allow them to be re-baptized. In addition to re-baptism, Ecumenical Councils also require a person to renounce their heresy. Heresies range from the Marcionites, Manicheans, and Monophysites, to Arians and Macedonians.
According to the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, the sacrament of baptism is instituted by Jesus Christ. Its efficacy, however, is challenged because it is considered lacking in grace.
IOCC’s activities in Gaza
The Concerned Orthodox Christian Alliance (ACT) is a nonprofit organization that works to protect Christians facing persecution. ACT was founded in 1992. It is part of a global network of relief and ecumenical organizations. ACT is also involved in peace-building and advocacy activities.
ACT is a member of the international ACT Alliance and is a member of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas. Its goal is to provide humanitarian assistance around the world. Its members work with local churches and community groups.
One of ACT’s members is the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), an international non-governmental development agency that provides humanitarian assistance. IOCC helps to address the urgent needs of displaced Syrians. IOCC has assisted 3.3 million Syrians. Among other projects, IOCC has provided dignity kits and clothing to displaced Syrians.
IOCC also provides vocational training to young adults. The agency has three vocational centers in Gaza and Syria, and offers educational services to hundreds of young people.
IOCC’s focus on the saints
As part of its mission, the Concerned Orthodox Christians’ Alliance (COCA) seeks to protect Christians from persecution. The organization also works to promote peace and ecumenism worldwide, and to provide relief to people in need. A recent event held by the organization aimed to focus on the saints.
One of the highlights of the event was the presentation of an introductory DVD highlighting the great events of American Orthodoxy. In addition, the conference focused on the unity of the Church.
During the conference, several eminent speakers spoke about the Orthodox Faith and its teachings. These included Dr. Valerie Karras, Dr. James Counelis, and Fr. Eusebius Stephanou. Several essays by hierarchs were presented as well.
One of the key topics discussed by the speakers was the need for private foundations that would help fund Orthodox missions. They also discussed the importance of transparency in lay participation.
At the conference, the participants were encouraged to write articles that would be distributed to various Orthodox journals. Furthermore, the Board of Directors was encouraged to write their own articles and submit them to different jurisdictional magazines.