His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros
Greetings at OCMC
February 8, 2020 – 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Orthodox Christian Mission Center
St. Augustine, Florida
Beloved Brother Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta, Your Graces Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos and Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos,
Thank you for this warm welcome and luncheon here at the Mission Center, which was a unique gift to all Orthodox Christians in America by my ever-memorable predecessor, Archbishop Iakovos. He had the vision and the confidence to give this ministry of love as gift to the entire Church, for it is love that drives your apostolate. It is the love for every person on earth under heaven that impels us to bring the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ to every creature. It is love that is the basis of our missionary enterprise, because we are inspired to give the gift of the knowledge of God from the abundance of our own blessings, and the surfeit of the grace that we have known in our lives.
Moreover, the location of this Mission Center, so close to the Saint Photios National Shrine, emphasizes a two-fold connection. First, we reflect on the the missionary impetus of that Great Patriarch of Constantinople, whose vision for the Gospel brought the Slavic Peoples to the Orthodox Faith. Second, we remember those early Greeks who came to St. Augustine so many centuries ago, who by only their presence in the New World were an inspiration for transformation. We see mission work as being the active side of the coin, as in the case of Saints Cyril and Methodios and the work of this Mission Center overseas. And we can see it as being passive too, as in the Faith through the normal course of immigrants’ lives. This latter is represented by the Saint Photios Shrine, which memorializes the Πρωτοπόροι, the pioneers who carried the seeds of Orthodoxy to these shores.
Moving from the homogeneous culture of, say, a Greece or a Romania, such immigrants, who adhere to their spiritual legacy in the first generations, can lose this connection as they experience the natural cultural assimilation that occurs in a pluralistic society like America. Then we find ourselves in a situation of having to evangelize our own through education, even as we find converts from the larger society looking for the purity of the Orthodox Faith. And you know as well as I do, that with the fall of the Berlin Wall, for the past thirty years, many Orthodox countries have been in dire need of resurrecting the Orthodox Faith within their traditionally Orthodox Land, after the violent and persecutory hiatus of the Communist Era.
So we see that Mission has many challenges, and I am happy to see that you are applying your energies and resources in these grace–filled ministries.
May God continue to bless all of you to meet the many challenges that your apostolate presents, and may Saint Photios guide you always. Amen.