IOCC - International Orthodox Christian Charities

While I was still in seminary I, along with other seminarians from the US Orthodox seminaries, was able to participate in a rebuilding effort in New Orleans with the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). It was an incredible time, and I learned an awful lot about drywall from the Habitat For Humanity guys. Leading our group was Dan Christopulos, the US representative for the IOCC, and he told us all about the great work the IOCC does around the world, and their US-based emergency response group called Frontline. These folks are incredible, going into disaster areas and providing emotional and spiritual support as well as helping with muck out / clean up. I wanted to join up but wasn’t able to get in until 2015. So far I’ve only represented IOCC here in WV during the floods of 2016, and even then it was 10 or 12 days after the actually event.Continue reading

I was going through the used books section of Goodwill the other day when a title popped out at me. It was by a well-to-do Christian businessman, titled How to make a Hell of a Lot of Profit and Still Go to Heaven. It was a guide for ethical money making. Whether his argument is good, I can’t say, but it certainly hearkens to Christ’s words today regarding those who are rich, and the seemingly impossible task that rich people have in obtaining salvation. Christ isn’t mincing word here, there’s no explaining it away, and a preliminary assessment seems to support the claim.Continue reading

 

With the recent events in Charlottesville our parish has been having a lot of discussions, be it about race, forgiveness, or fact checking Confederate generals. In the discussions there is one fact that never changes, and that’s that there is no room for racism or hatred in the Orthodox Christian Church (even being condemned in the 19th century). We can be worried, concerned, scared, or anything else but we must reject any kind of language that blanket blames any race or group of people. It’s certainly uncomfortable to consider that we have to forgive white supremacists or the violent antifa people, but if Christ can forgive the men brutalizing him then at the very least we can discuss forgiving hateful people.

There is also a lot of discussion here in the city, both physically in public and also on Facebook, most recently on a Black Lives Matter rally held at the Capitol. Some of the comments regarding rally on a news page make incredible assertions, ranging from blacks being lazy, to having too many babies, to draining all the welfare from the state, and so on. Some people rose up against those comments, but that particular page is just one example. And to be honest I hear a lot of these similar remarks in places that I frequent, from people I associate with through different activities or clubs. It’s astounding that in a state so heavily identified as Christian that I encounter so many people placing blame on black or Mexican people. Anyway, once I saw those Facebook comments about “all the babies” I did some poking around for census data to see what they have to say vs. how people perceive reality. Although I assumed a lot of what I learned, the numbers were pretty surprising.Continue reading

Just before I was ordained I was talking to the webmaster for the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church, and he told me when he was ordained his son was just a little baby. And he always thought of his baby boy as a metaphor for his own priesthood, that is, when he was ordained he was just a baby priest, and he also developed as his son developed. It’s an apt example, and I still use it to this day, because in a lot of ways when I celebrated my one-year anniversary to the priesthood I was just feeling like I got the hang of walking without having to hold onto something. This metaphor works with virtually everything from lawyers to woodworkers; we’re all developing in our respective fields.

That being said I really would like to start writing again, putting my sermons and other thoughts on here as they come up. My goal is to write at least once a week and them maybe increase from there. I don’t deign to place myself among the proverbial pantheon of superstar Orthodox bloggers, though!