This Week in Orthodoxy, November 7, 2014
Hello, I’m Emmy Louvaris with “This Week in Orthodoxy,” the world’s only online video newscast focused on events in the life of the Orthodox Church.
These are the stories making headlines this week:
- The IOCC is building its 4th School, in Uganda
- The euthanasia debate is rekindled as a terminally ill Oregon woman takes her own life.
- Orthodox Christianity faces opposition in Beijing, even though Christianity is on the rise in China.
- 25 Orthodox teenagers are brought together at the IOCC Serve-X-Treme Youth Conference.
Segment 1: News from Around the Globe
IOCC Building Schools in Uganda
First, the International Orthodox Christian Charities, IOCC, is in the process of building a secondary school in Uganda.
Since its independence in 1961, Uganda has been crippled by civil wars and military coupes, which, along with the AIDS pandemic, have left nearly 2.7 million children orphaned and millions more with no education.
Near Lake Victoria, in the isolated town of Butembe, the one-room schoolhouse fills each morning with hundreds of children who sit shoulder to shoulder, without desks, chairs, or learning materials and with one teacher who instructs Kindergarten through 8th graders in two shifts. The Remote village offers no opportunity for further educational advancement.
This is where IOCC has stepped in, with the cooperation of the Holy Archdiocese of Kampala and All Uganda of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and with a generous contribution from the St. Nektarios Education Fund, to build a high school so children can continue learning.
The 240-student-capacity school will include four classrooms equipped with desks, chairs, essential teaching equipment, as well as bathrooms and a school office.
In addition to the new high school, IOCC is also committed to improving health and hygiene conditions for the area and will provide a reliable and sustainable clean water system near the school to ensure that students have access to clean and safe water. Lake Victoria, its main water source, is polluted with raw sewage, industrial waste dumping, and fertilizer and chemical waste runoff.
If you’d like to contribute or learn more about IOCC and its many initiatives, log on to iocc.org
Death Sparks Renewed Euthanasia Debate
In Oregon, 29-year-old Brittany Maynard, diagnosed with glioblastoma, a rare form of brain cancer, ended her life on November 1st, sparking renewed discussion over the practice of euthanasia for the terminally ill.
Given six months to live, she moved to Oregon where a “Death With Dignity Law” allows terminally ill patients to end their lives.
While this debate may have differing views in the secular arena, from an Orthodox perspective, life should run its natural course; therefore, euthanasia is not permitted.
The Church, however, is compassionate as it specifies those suffering from a terminal ailment need not be subjected to the artificial prolonging of life, which could also draw out pain and suffering.
For more on this topic from an Orthodox Christian perspective, read Fr. Lawrence Farley’s “The Lords of Life and Death” on the Sounding Blog accessed on MyOCN.net.
Rise of Christianity in China
Now on to China, where Christianity is finding itself on the rise, and China is poised to be the most populous Christian nation in the world by 2030.
According to a 2011, study nearly 67 million mainland Chinese identify themselves as Christians. Yet, Orthodox Christianity is expected to remain at 0.1% of the total population.
Historically, Orthodoxy was part of the Russian Orthodox Church and prevalent in two northern regions of China. However, after the Communist revolution in the 1930’s, nearly 5,000 Chinese Orthodox Christians and their Russian Archbishop fled to the United States and were granted asylum. The remnants of the Orthodox Church were eventually eliminated during Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution.
Western denominations have been tolerated by Communist leaders, more recently, despite an official ban still in place.
Today, with no Orthodox Priests who can lead a flock, services are held at the Russian embassy in Beijing. Their only hope comes from Chinese students studying abroad in Russian seminaries. Most of them, however, may end up in Hong Kong, which has a more open position towards the Orthodox Church.
IOCC’s Serve-X-treme Youth Leadership Conference
Finally, the IOCC is nurturing the philanthropic spirit of Orthodox teenagers with the Serve-X-treme Youth Leadership Conference.
For a week, 25 teenagers from various Orthodox jurisdictions converged on Minneapolis to be part of hands-on service projects in soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and building alongside Habitat for Humanity volunteers.
The Youth, appointed by their Hierarchs, represent a Pan-Orthodox effort to better serve communities while developing a deeper understanding of Orthodox Christian philanthropy.
Serve-X-Treme is part of a broader effort to develop the Orthodox Christian Action Network (Orthodox CAN!), a US-based initiative to nurture and activate the Orthodox community’s value of philanthropy through volunteerism across all ages.
Segment 2. News from OCN
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And that brings another edition of “This Week in Orthodoxy” to a close. For everyone here at the OCN Studios, thank you for watching. I’m Emmy Louvaris. Let’s Go Forth in Peace.
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