New York, NY– The Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, has announced that two agencies of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) will be honored as recipients of the 18th Annual Athenagoras Human Rights Awards. The recipients are International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) and the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC). The official presentation will take place at the organization’s grand banquet at the New York Hilton Hotel on March 8, 2003.

Since its creation in 1992 as the humanitarian and philanthropic agency of SCOBA, International Orthodox Christian Charities has evolved into an important relief organization that is internationally recognized and respected. In its first decade, IOCC has become a vital conduit enabling Orthodox Christians in the churches of America to channel resources of human energy, as well as financial and material support towards those in need. IOCC has distributed more than $160 million in aid through its initiatives both domestically and in 21 countries around the world. It has carried out its mandate of humanitarian service with distinction, responding to the needs of victims of war, poverty, disease and natural disasters. IOCC has earned numerous commendations for both its organizational efficiency and program effectiveness.

The Order has also selected the Orthodox Christian Mission Center, the international missionary agency of SCOBA, as a worthy recipient of the Athenagoras Award. For almost two decades, the Mission Center has been the vehicle for Orthodox Christians in America to participate in the Church’s missionary endeavors around the world. Since its inception in 1985, the Mission Center has offered missionary support to over 35 countries through sending long-term and short-term missionaries, supporting the development of indigenous Orthodox churches, and funding educational and philanthropic programs. During this time, the Mission Center has sent more than 800 dedicated volunteers on teaching, building and medical teams, conducted 25 building and restoration projects of churches, schools and medical clinics, and financially supported over 230 indigenous Orthodox clergy in twelve countries. This summer OCMC will send 11 teams to regions of East and West Africa, Central America, Eastern Europe, Asia, and Alaska.

In announcing the 2003 Awards, Dr. Anthony Limberakis, National Commander of the Order of St. Andrew, stated, “The Order is very pleased to honor both IOCC and OCMC with the Athenagoras Award, as they are two agencies of the Church that lead our Orthodox faithful in humanitarian and charitable work throughout the world. This they have done and will continue to do in the love of Christ for all people in need.”

Archbishop Demetrios of America, Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Chairman of SCOBA, will host the event which is expected to attract more than 1,500 Orthodox Christian laymen and clergy from across the country. Board Chairman Bert W. Moyar and Executive Director Constantine M. Triantafilou will accept the award on behalf of IOCC. Board President Helen Nicozisis and Executive Director Fr. Martin Ritsi will accept the award on behalf of the OCMC.

Established in 1986, The Athenagoras Human Rights Award has been presented annually by the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle to a person or organization which has "…consistently exemplified by action, purpose and dedication, concern for the basic human rights and religious freedom of all people regardless of race, color or creed."

The Award, as the preeminent recognition for humanitarian works presented within the Orthodox Churches of the Western Hemisphere, is dedicated to the memory of one of the 20th century’s most notable Orthodox Christian religious leaders, Patriarch Athenagoras. Born in Greece on March 25, 1886, he rose through the clerical ranks to become Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of North and South America in 1931 and was elected Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in November, 1948. Patriarch Athenagoras died in 1972. He was the 268th successor to the ancient Patriarchal Throne established in Constantinople or “New Rome” by the Apostle Andrew.

The Order of St. Andrew the Apostle is the U.S. organization of Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, an international group of church laymen recognized for outstanding service, dedication and loyalty. While these individuals are involved in contemporary activities of service and stewardship, the designation “Archon” and the individual titles the members acquire, date to the era of the Byzantine empire. There are more than 800 current members of the Order in America.

Athenagoras Human Rights Award Previous Recipients:

2002 President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush
2001 Archbishop Anastasios of Albania
2000 Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu
1999 Elie Wiesel
1998 Nana Mouskouri
1997 Reverend Clergy of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese
1996 Order of AHEPA
1995 Hon. Edward Derwinski
1994 Hon. Paul S. Sarbanes
1993 George Douris
1992 Ladies Philoptochos
1991 Andrew A. Athens
1990 Hon. John Brademas
1989 Anthony G. Borden, MD
1988 Mother Theresa
1987 President Jimmy Carter
1986 Archbishop Iakovos

Contact: Order of St. Andrew
Tel: (212) 570-3550
Fax: (212) 774-0214
Web site: www.archons.org
E-mail: [email protected]