To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I write this letter in the wake of the fatalities, heavy damage, and trauma caused by Hurricane Charley in Florida. This natural disaster has affected entire communities throughout the state of Florida. Even more tragic, some families are mourning the painful loss of loved ones as a result of the violent storm.
In this difficult period of aftermath, we are moved as Greek Orthodox Christians to remember the inspiring words of St. Paul, weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15) and put on heartfelt compassion (Colossians 3:12). We are also made painfully aware how our own Greek Orthodox communities have been affected by this disaster. In Fort Myers and Port Charlotte, the church edifices of the Annunciation Church and Holy Trinity Church, respectively, sustained significant structural damage. In Orlando and Daytona Beach, and in the surrounding areas also, families are facing significant economic stress due to the damages inflicted upon their homes and places of business.
As the days unfold in the aftermath of this natural disaster, it is becoming very clear that communities in Florida will require much assistance from the Federal Government and outside relief agencies in order to recover from the devastation. For our Greek Orthodox communities, our Holy Metropolis of Atlanta has vigorously commenced the appropriate efforts to assist our parishes that are in need. The IOCC (International Orthodox Christian Charities), an organization of our SCOBA (Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas), is also offering special assistance in the disaster areas of Florida. It is important, however, that all of us extend our support to those who have been affected by the hurricane through prayer and through financial assistance. To this end, I am kindly asking all our parishes across America to pass a special tray next Sunday, August 29, 2004. I appeal to your hearts to give generously to this special collection. Your contributions to this tray should be forwarded to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, and designated exclusively to benefit the Florida Hurricane Victims.
I also ask that you keep the families of those who have been affected by this tragedy in your hearts and in your prayers, especially remembering those who tragically lost their lives and their loved ones, that they may find comfort and healing in the days ahead. May our Lord Jesus Christ grant you His abiding peace and security, and may His love and mercy be with you always.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America