Orthodox News: Syrian Bishops, Prison Ministry, March for Life

Orthodox News: Syrian Bishops, Prison Ministry, March for Life


Welcome to “This Week in Orthodoxy”, the world’s only online video newscast focused on events in the life of the Orthodox Church.  I’m Emmy Louvaris. These are some of the stories making headlines this week.

  1. 1000 Days and More, Remembering The Syrian Kidnapped Bishops of Aleppo
  1. State of Florida court says, Religious people can help ex-convicts
  1. Chicago Mayor Proclaims Saint Sava Academy Day 
  1. Orthodox Christians represented at annual March to Life


Kidnapped Bishops of Aleppo

First up, it’s been over 1000 days since Archbishop Paul Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim, were abducted by Islamist extremists in April of 2013.

Among the first victims of persecution in the Middle East, the Bishops kidnappings brought light, at that time, to the escalating violence against Christians; as extremists gained more and more power, blatantly flaunting their ability to wage terror at any level. In the three years that have followed the world has seen unbelievable Christian persecution, continued attacks against innocent victims, thousands fleeing their homelands, and even more horrific public displays of violence and mutilation, all in an effort to eliminate Christianity in the Middle East while securing political power.

The Antiochian Orthodox Media Center has developed a one minute video spot in an effort to keep the lives of these two missing Bishops at the forefront.

Prison Ministry

Next up from Florida, A New York based atheist group has spent the last nine years suing the State of Florida, to shut down prison ministry programs, claiming that state funds should never go to “pervasively sectarian” groups. According to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the atheist group has never seen the programs in action nor have they considered the valuable services provided by prison ministries like room, board, and job training assistance.

In a recent press release, “Florida can continue to partner with faith-based groups to serve recently released prisoners, thanks to two prisoner ministries, Prisoners of Christ and Lamb of God, who stood up against the atheist activist group. The ministries, both represented by the Becket Fund, argued in court that the law allows religious groups to partner with the state to feed, house, and help former prisoners find jobs.

They also argued that the law did not allow the atheist group—which had never seen the program in action, witnessed its life-changing success, nor had any interest in offering assistance to recently released prisoners—to discriminate against private groups just because of their faith.”

Lori Windham, Senior Legal Counsel said, “The Court was right to reject a discriminatory attempt to punish successful prisoner ministries simply because they were run by religiously-inspired people.”

If you are interested in Prison Ministry, The Orthodox Christian faith also has a Prison Ministry in America, Under the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops, OCPM serves to train volunteers to minister to those incarcerated and serve those in prisons. For more information log onto www.theocpm.org

Saint Sava Academy Day

And next up, Chicago Mayor Emanuel has officially proclaimed January 27th, as Saint Sava Academy Day in recognition of the school’s work and contributions to the community.

Saint Sava Academy is “the only full-time elementary school in Chicago offering dual language education in both Serbian and Russian languages,” “offers a safe community where students are able to express their culture and religious beliefs,” and “sustains an Orthodox faith-based education that provides students a strong spiritual compass both inside and outside the classroom.”

Leaders of Holy Resurrection Cathedral and Saint Sava Academy warmly welcomed the Mayor’s proclamation, as a very important and deserved recognition for their school, and an honor for the whole community.

Founded in 2001, the school offers a dynamic PreK-8th grade education.

January 27th is the feast day of the revered Serbian patron saint of education and culture, Saint Sava Who was the first archbishop of Serbia.

March for Life 

And Lastly, from Washington DC, With predictions of the worst snowfall in 90 years, despite the brutal weather, thousands took part in the annual March for Life on Friday, January 22.

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, clergy and seminarians, and faithful from across the country gathered representing the pan-Orthodox community braving the cold, carrying icons and “Orthodox Christians for Life” banners and signs.  Marchers made their way to the US Supreme Court while Metropolitan Tikhon offered prayers for those who have fallen victim to abortion. “The March” marked the 43rd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the United States.

And in News from OCN, January 17th was OCN’s designated annual Share the Light Sunday. Parishes across the country took the opportunity to speak to their faith community about the Orthodox Christian Network.  However, January 17th isn’t the only day available to speak about OCN, you can delegate any Sunday that works for your parish and Highlight how we are breaking down communication barriers and building up avenues to connect with Orthodox Christians & seekers worldwide using digital media.

Log on to myocn.net to access a Checklist of support materials with the many ways you can organize a successful Share the Light Sunday in your community.

And in honor of OCN’s 20th Anniversary, Anonymous Donors have issued a $20,000 matching challenge, where for every dollar you give, $2 will be donated!

Much like public radio & TV, the Orthodox Christian Network relies on support from its viewers, listeners and myocn.net visitors like you! Be a part of our growth and sponsor a Share the Light Sunday in your parish or make a contribution today!

And Remember:  You can access the many breaking stories, blogs, podcasts and videos available on the latest topics of interest, on myocn.net, on Facebook or watch us on our you tube “OCNVideochannel”.

That brings another edition of “This Week in Orthodoxy,” to a close. For everyone here in our OCN studios, I’m Emmy Louvaris. Let’s go forth in peace.



OCN offers videos, podcasts, blogs and music, to enhance Orthodox Christian life.   We also report on news events in the Orthodox Church and produce This Week in Orthodoxy, a weekly news video with stories and issues of interest to Orthodox Christians around the world.

The Orthodox Christian Network is a commissioned agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops. Our mission is to comfort, inspire, and inform Orthodox Christians and seekers around the world using digital media. OCN is not underwritten financially by any one organization, jurisdiction, or individual. Rather, OCN is supported entirely by parish and personal donations. Please remember OCN in your parish’s charitable giving. The Orthodox Christian Network is a 501(c)(3) corporation.


Much like public radio, the Orthodox Christian Network relies on the support of our listeners.  Anonymous donors have issued a $20,000 matching challenge in honor of OCN’s 20th Anniversary! For every $1 you give, $2 will be donated! You can send your gift by direct mail, over the phone, or on our website.

OCN Spark is here!   Our Spark app is an Orthodox Christian News portal that allows you to take action.  Spark provides daily devotions, live Bible study, and you can read and learn about events going on in the Orthodox Christian world and persecuted Christians.  In addition to making it easy to share news and articles with friends, Spark allows you make prayer requests for those who are suffering.  Click here to download OCN Spark from iTunes.


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About author

Emmy Louvaris

Emmy Louvaris is the host of This Week in Orthodoxy, the first weekly news show to cover the international Orthodox Church and community.