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The Orthodox Christian Mission Center held a “Go to All Nations” brunch reception on February 6, 2017 at the OCMC headquarters in St. Augustine. The reception followed Divine Liturgy at the St. Photios Shrine in downtown St. Augustine in celebration of the feast of St. Photios the Great and commemoration of the 35th anniversary of the Shrine’s dedication.
In attendance at the reception was His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America, His Grace Bishop Gregory of Nyssa, and His Grace Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos. Also in attendance was the OCMC staff, numerous clergy, board members, church members of surrounding Orthodox parishes, and four seminarians from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.
The event was organized by the St. Photios Shrine’s Director, Polly Hillier, OCMC Board Members Helen Nicozisis and Athena Economou, and Shrine Trustee Helen Carlos. Attendees enjoyed a meal, fellowship, and presentations on the history and importance of Orthodox missions. Cake was also served in honor of His Eminence’s birthday which was on February 1st.
Kenneth Kidd, OCMC Development Officer, served as master of ceremonies. OCMC Board President John Colis offered introductory remarks. His Grace Bishop Dimitrios spoke briefly as the founding Director of OCMC. His Grace Bishop Gregory of Nyssa also spoke, sharing a story about time spent in the mission field. His Grace reminisced on his experiences with the Orthodox Church in Alaska and how time there imprinted on him the crucial work of missions in Orthodox life.
OCMC Executive Director Fr. Martin Ritsi spoke of how grateful he was for the generosity that has been shown in support of missions around the world. He gave updates from the field and shared some developments that have taken place in the various countries reached by missionaries and mission teams. He emphasized the great work that is being accomplished, by the grace of God, through the help of all those who contribute prayerfully and financially to the work of missions.
His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios followed Fr. Martin and spoke of the essential place of missions in the Orthodox Church and encouraged people to remember that the missionary outreach of the Church is a necessity. He spoke of the history of OCMC, the years that laid the foundation for its development, and the people involved who made it possible. He was grateful for the opportunity the day provided to enjoy one another’s fellowship and focus on this very important topic.
Chapter 4 from the Gospel of John emphasizes that the “fields are already white for harvest.” Likewise, the mission field is continually ready for harvest. The long history of “seed planting” and “harvesting” was remembered on the day of the reception, as well as the fruit of that labor which we are seeing on the mission field right now.
The OCMC staff was thankful for the opportunity to host this reception. Thank you to all who came to the event and to all who support Orthodox missions! May God continue to bless the hands of those who serve others and share the Orthodox Faith with those who are hungry for God’s love.