Sunday of Cheesefare and Mission Sunday
March 1, 2009
The Lord has commanded us: I have set you as a light to the Nations, that you should be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. (Acts 13:47)
To the Most Reverend Clergy, Venerable Monastics and the Devout Faithful of the Holy Orthodox Churches in the Americas
Dearly Beloved in the Lord,
We greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, as we set our eyes on the coming celebration of Christ's glorious Resurrection through our joyful participation in the Great and Holy Lent. The Sunday preceding our Lenten journey has been designated by the Hierarchs of SCOBA as Mission Sunday. For 2000 years, Christians have worked to share Christ's message of hope and His promise of salvation with the world by serving as living lights and witnesses to His truth among all nations, even unto the ends of the earth.
In 1994, the Hierarchs of SCOBA sanctioned the Orthodox Christian Mission Center to provide the Orthodox Faithful in the Americas with the resources and opportunities they needed to answer the call to mission. Orthodox Christians have served in 34 countries by preaching, baptizing, and teaching the newly illumined; supporting and educating priests, and helping the Church to minister to the spiritual and physical needs of Her people through the many ministries of the OCMC. Through this work, guided by the Holy Spirit, thousands of people who were once in darkness are now embraced by the eternal light of Christ.
This year the doors of the new Archbishop Anastasios and Archbishop Demetrios Missionary Training and Administration Building will open. This building, the first permanent building of a SCOBA agency, will facilitate the continued growth of our Holy Churches' worldwide missionary efforts. It will be a resource for the training up of new missionaries and the coordination of international mission ministries, and it will allow the Orthodox Faithful of North America to share the light of Christ with even more people.
This Mission Sunday, and throughout the Lenten season, let us embrace our call to shine as lights in the darkness. Let us re-commit to pray for those who have yet to hear the Gospel. Let us soften our hearts, that the Holy Spirit may guide our response to the command to be light to the Nations, to be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. Let us, as God's children, shine brightly with the light of Christ before others.
May our hearts be filled with hope and love as we prayerfully anticipate the triumphant Resurrection of Christ our God; and may we be given the strength and courage to share this glorious promise with our brothers and sisters around the world.
With paternal blessings and love in Christ,
+Archbishop DEMETRIOS, Chairman
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
+Metropolitan PHILIP, Vice Chairman
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
+Metropolitan CHRISTOPHER, Secretary
Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America
+Metropolitan NICHOLAS of Amissos, Treasurer
American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese in the USA
Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas
Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church
Orthodox Church in America
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
+Bishop MERCURIUS of Zaraisk
Representation of the Moscow Patriarchate in the USA
+Bishop ILIA of Philomelion
Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America