Those who are interested in the Greek Orthodox Church of America (GOCA) can join many different organizations that are dedicated to helping them grow as Christians. These include the American Orthodox Institute, the Philoptochos Chapters, and Syndesmos – The World Fellowship of Orthodox Youth.
American Orthodox Institute
Several organizations and groups are actively engaged in the Orthodox Christian mission in the United States. The American Orthodox Institute of the Greek Orthodox Church of America is one such organization.
The Institute’s focus is on cultural issues within the moral tradition of the Orthodox Church. It sponsors conferences, tours and informal talks. It also hosts Archpriest Lawrence Russell of the Orthodox Church in America.
While the Institute does not have a clear ideology, its members are free to share their philosophical positions and beliefs. The institute is also non-hierarchical, with no jurisdictional agenda. The goal is to promote inter-church dialogue and educational initiatives.
The Institute has two quarterly magazines (Conciliar Press and AGAIN), a print publishing arm (Conciliar Media Ministries, Inc.), and a new media arm (Ancient Faith Radio). It produces dozens of books by the best American Orthodox writers.
During the late 1800s, hundreds of Greek immigrants were settling in the United States. They needed assistance. Women began to organize clubs that offered support and friendship to newcomers. They also aided the poor and the sick. These clubs evolved into Philoptochos Societies.
These women’s groups helped to facilitate the settling of the Greek community in America. Their contributions were immeasurable. One of these organizations was Hull House, founded by Jane Addams. She was a phil-Hellene who gave her life to assisting the Greek community.
Archbishop Athenagoras I, who later became Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, recognized the role of women in the Orthodox Church. He believed that the women of the Greek Orthodox community could be a powerful force in charitable outreach and philanthropy.
Archbishop Athenagoras Spyrou
Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople (1886-1972) was an influential figure in the history of the Orthodox Church. His life spanned the years of the Ottoman and Greek Empires. He was a prominent figure in the ecumenical movement and worked with Pope Paul VI. He was a great proponent of reconciliation among all Christians. He died on July 7, 1972. Athenagoras was born in Ioanina, Epirus, which was part of the Ottoman Empire at the time. He was ordained a deacon in 1910 and a priest in 1922.
After graduating from the theological school in Halki, he was elected Metropolitan of Kerkyra and Paxos. He served as the representative of the Church of Greece at important inter-Christian meetings. He also developed a rich social and philanthropic ministry. His ministry was aided by a network of benevolent organizations in his homeland. Athenagoras was a fierce opponent of communism.
Archbishop Alexander Veronis
During the past 150 years, Orthodox Christians have come to the United States, bringing priests and bishops with them. During the 20th century, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia rediscovers its full understanding of the Church. Today, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is located in New York City. It is under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
After graduating from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Fr. Alexander Veronis earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1958 and a S.T.M. in Pastoral Psychology in 1959. He also completed two years of Missiological and Biblical Studies at Lancaster Theological Seminary.
His son, Luke Veronis, is a priest of the Greek Orthodox Church in Boston, Massachusetts. In addition to his service in the local parish, he directs the Missions Institute of Orthodox Christianity at Hellenic College Holy Cross. He has been involved in missions in Kenya for 12 years.
PSALM (Pan Orthodox Society for the Advancement of Liturgical Music)
Founded in 1999 by a group of Orthodox musicians, the Pan Orthodox Society for the Advancement of Liturgical Music (POLMS) seeks to promote the sharing of information and resources among Orthodox music leaders, composers, and musicians. The organization’s online discussion group provides an interactive forum for Church music professionals. A comprehensive liturgical music resource database is also available. It includes an alphabetical index of saints and feasts and PDFs of Orthodox liturgical sheet music.
The Pan-Orthodox Liturgical Music Symposium was held July 12-15 at Northern Kentucky University. This three-day event offered attendees a glimpse into the history of American Orthodox liturgical music. It demonstrated the richness and diversity of the English-speaking world’s Orthodox liturgical music tradition.
Syndesmos – The World Fellowship of Orthodox Youth
Founded in 1953 in Paris, France, SYNDESMOS is the World Fellowship of Orthodox Youth. Its purpose is to promote contact and cooperation among Orthodox youth movements throughout the world. Today, SYNDESMOS is a federation of 121 theological schools in 43 countries and has a membership of more than 119.
SYNDESMOS was created to help Orthodox young adults reconnect with their Church and renew their faith. It encourages greater reflection on Orthodox Christianity and encourages missionary activity. It works with the blessing of all Orthodox Churches and provides young Orthodox adults with an opportunity to serve their Church.
SYNDESMOS has a rich history. Its founders included many late protopresbyters and young Orthodox theologians. They were motivated by their desire to work together to serve the Church.