This Week in Orthodoxy- March 7, 2014

Welcome to “This Week in Orthodoxy,” the world’s only online video newscast focused on events in the life of the Orthodox Church.

Segment 1: News from around the Globe

Representatives of all canonical Orthodox Churches to meet in Istanbul March 6 to 9

Our top story this week: Primates and other high-ranking bishops from all Eastern Orthodox Churches are meeting in Istanbul from March 6th to 9th, at the invitation of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.

The bishops are discussing several issues of pressing importance to the entire Orthodox Church, including the plight of Orthodox Christians in the Middle East, the situation in Ukraine, and plans for a Great and Holy Council. Efforts have been underway since the 1970s to bring all Orthodox Churches together for a major council, but disagreements, especially between Moscow and Constantinople, have prevented plans from being finalized.

Archimandrite in Ukraine Stands Between Troops for 21 Hours

Throughout the conflict in Ukraine, many Orthodox clergy have taken very public stands against violence. As Russian forces entered Ukraine, a particularly powerful example of peacemaking made its way to the front page of newspapers around the world: The abbot of St Paisievskogo Monastery, Archimandrite Gabriel Anisimov, and five priests from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate, stood between armored troops from the Russian Federation and Ukrainian troops to prevent confrontation and bloodshed. The standoff lasted for 21 hours, with Fr Gabriel and his fellow monks holding a constant vigil, chanting hymns, reading the psalms, and exhorting the troops.

According to a post from Fr Gabriel on Facebook, at one point high-caliber Russian guns were aimed directly at him, as the unit prepared to advance. Fr. Gabriel held up his blessing cross and shouted: “Are you moving against your brothers in faith and baptism? Brothers, stop!”

Ultimately, the troops stood down and the situation diffused. But tensions remain high throughout the city and the region.

Controversial Church Fresco in Montenegro includes Marx, Engels

A new fresco in the Serbian Orthodox Church of Christ’s Resurrection in Montenegro’s capital of Podgorica has triggered much attention and controversy.

The fresco depicts the Apocalypse and Last Judgment, and allegedly shows the late Yugoslav dictator, Josip Broz Tito, drowning in the fires of hell along with Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, authors of the Communist Manifesto.
More than 20 million Christians, most of them Orthodox, were murdered by Communist governments in the 20th century.

Moscow Government Raises 1 Billion Rubles in Donations to Build 18 New Orthodox Churches

More than 1 billion rubles, or about $27.5 million, in donations have been collected over the past three years for the construction of 18 new Orthodox churches across Moscow, according to reports in the Russian media.

In 2010, the city government of Moscow announced “Program 200,” an ambitious project to build 200 Orthodox churches in Moscow in the next 10 to 15 years. The ultimate goal is to make sure that Orthodox believers in the densest-populated areas of the city can easily walk to the nearest church. The city government is giving the land and fast-tracking building approval, but the building funds themselves are coming from private donors.

First Hierarchical Divine Liturgy Celebrated in Bursa, Turkey since 1922

Some good news from Turkey: The very first hierarchical liturgy since 1922 has been celebrated in the city of Bursa. His Eminence Metropolitan Elpidophoros of Bursa presided over the Divine Liturgy, as well as a celebration of the Artoklasia service in thanksgiving for the occasion, on Saturday, March 1.

Although conditions remain difficult for Turkey’s Orthodox minority, the Ecumenical Patriarchate is making a concerted effort to re-open and use historic churches throughout the country.

Segment 2: Coming Up

The Orthodox Christian Mission Center [OCMC] is looking for Spanish-speaking individuals to participate in its July 5-12 mission trip to San Esteban, Mexico. San Esteban is a village of approximately 1,000 native Aztec Orthodox Christians northwest of Mexico City. Surrounding San Esteban are ten other Orthodox villages, some of which are only accessible by foot or burro. Visit ocmc.org for more information.

International Orthodox Christian Charities is accepting applications until March 10 from college students and recent graduates interested in an internship. Opportunities are available in fundraising at the main office in Baltimore, in leadership of US programs at the field office in Minneapolis, and in IOCC’s humanitarian efforts in Greece at the field office in Athens. Visit iocc.org for more information.

Segment 3: News from OCN

We’re now in the Lenten season, and Come Receive The Light, OCN’s nationally-syndicated weekly radio show, will be featuring a 4-part Lenten series with renowned Orthodox theologian and popular author Metropolitan Kallistos Ware throughout the month of March. Topics covered will include prayer, fasting, alms giving, and Scripture memorization. Be sure to listen by visiting myocn.net.

That’s it for “This Week in Orthodoxy.” Let us know if you enjoyed watching. See you next week!

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Seraphim Danckaert is Director of Development at OCN. He holds…
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