I am a lifelong Central Illinois resident and a parishioner of All Saints Greek Orthodox Church in Peoria. My wife's parents are immigrants from a small village outside Athens. My wife (Maria) and I have two young sons, Christian age 4 and Dimitrios age 3. I am also a member of Chicago Metropolitan Council.
GREEK ORTHODOX OF SPRINGFIELD HOST EVENT TO PRAY FOR SUFFERING PEOPLE OF THE WORLD
FEATURED BISHOP DEMETRIOS OF MOKISSOS AND LEADERS OF FAITH IN SPRINGFIELD
SPRINGFIELD: Christian leaders of various traditions gathered at Saint Anthony Greek Orthodox Church of Springfield (February 25, 2016) to pray for suffering Christians in the Middle East as well as all people suffering in the world including in our home state of Illinois.
The event featured Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, Chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago, who has recently been calling attention to the suffering of Christians in the Middle East. He was joined in representing the Greek Orthodox faithful by Father Michael Condos of Champaign Illinois, Father Anastasios Theodoropoulos of Town & Country Missouri, Father Anthony Tzortzis of Springfield Illinois, and Father George Pyle of Springfield Illinois.
In addition they were joined by the Executive Director of the Illinois Conference of Churches Reverend Laurie Vial, the Ecumenical Officer of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield Father Kevin Laughery, Reverend Thomas Christell of the Historic Grace Lutheran Church of Springfield, Reverend Walter Carlson of the United Methodist Church of Springfield, and George Johnston of the Presbyterian Church of Springfield.
Event host St. Anthony Greek Orthodox Parish in Springfield, Illinois, was packed solid for the event with parishioners from all faiths in Springfield attending the service.
While not in attendance, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner had meet with His Grace Bishop Demetrios the week before and sent his prayers and thoughts on the occasion in the form of a formal letter. Additionally, Illinois State Senator Bill Brady sent his thoughts and prayers as well. Senator Brady was the successful Sponsor in 2013 of SR70, a resolution calling for the Religious Freedom of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and part of an effort nationally by the Greek Orthodox Archons to pass similar resolutions in each state.
Another supporter of SR70, Illinois State Senator Sam McCann joined His Grace at this event and was honored to walk side by side with His Grace during the event. Senator McCann spoke on his Christian values, his strong support of His Grace’s effort to bring needed attention to the Genocide of Christians in the Middle East, and his prayers for suffering Christians throughout the world. He thanked Father Pyle and the leadership of Saint Anthony Greek Orthodox Parish in Springfield for hosting this event.
Father George Pyle said “the Greek Orthodox Church has had a long and vibrant history for advocating for people who are suffering, through the examples of great Saints and modern leaders of the Church.” “St. Anthony Greek Orthodox Church has the responsibility of representing the Orthodox Christians of Illinois at the state capitol and we are honored to have His Grace Bishop Demetrios, Illinois State Senator Sam McCann, and other religious leaders within this Capital of the State of Illinois join us in calling attention to these individuals in need” Father Pyle continued.
On the importance of such events, Bishop Demetrios noted, “While it may seem like we in the United States have little ability to change matters in the Middle East and elsewhere, I am convinced change can be achieved through added education and attention to the problem.” When asked about the need for the United States to officially recognize the situation in Syria and the Middle East as genocide against Christians, he replied, “We made a commitment along with the other member nations of the United Nations to never again sit back and allow such heinous crimes to be committed. Now that we see them displayed before our very eyes, how can we ignore that commitment?”
Father Kevin Laughery with the Springfield Roman Catholic Diocese says religious hatred is causing the persecution, and it can be dealt with. “If we are to reduce religious hatred, it all starts with the virtues that we are called by our very Christian faith to practice,” says Laughery.
“Despite the differences that exist among our various communities of Christ, we gather this night, oh Lord, one in you, to seek your forgiveness, to seek your guidance, to be reminded of your love, grace, and peace for all the people of this world — Christians as well as others who faithfully follow you as the one, true God,” says Reverend Thomas Christell of Historic Grace Lutheran Church.
His Grace Bishop Demetrios says politicians are hypocritical on the issue of religious persecution. “The problem, as I and others see it, is not that our government or even most do not recognize the suffering of those people in their homelands, it’s that for political expedience these authorities do not want to name it genocide,” says His Grace Bishop Demetrios.
The Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago, representing all Greek Orthodox parishioners within Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, eastern Missouri and northwest Indiana, have called on the President, Senators, and Congressmen to take the steps required to officially enact the U.N.’s Responsibility to Protect resolution.
For more information, please contact:
Father George Pyle, Priest of Saint Anthony Greek Orthodox Parish
John Ackerman, Director of Media Relations for the Metropolis of Chicago
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