Syosset, New York
February 1, 2006
Dearly Beloved in Christ:
Reflecting upon the life of Saint Herman of Alaska, we observe how impressive his accomplishments truly were, especially in light of the harsh external conditions under which he labored. Although today we live in a world far different from his and possess many technologies and resources that are designed specifically to assist us, we also face our own challenges and distractions in witnessing to the Orthodox Faith.
Despite the unique challenges we face at the beginning of this century, I truly believe that the Holy Spirit is guiding our willingness to continue the work of Saint Herman and our efforts in the proclamation of the Gospel to all peoples throughout North America. When I see the joyous commitment to Christ and His Holy Church in the older established parishes and in the dozens of new parish communities being planted across North America, I know that our efforts are not in vain.
I remain greatly encouraged by the dedication of so many of our clergy and faithful to the work of evangelization. This commitment was highlighted at the 14th All-American Council, held last July in Toronto, where one of the best-received, most-supported and discussed “pillars” of the Council was evangelization, reflecting how committed our Church is to this ongoing work of announcing the fullness of the Gospel to the peoples of North America.
As sharers in the Church’s mission, we ask Saint Herman to intercede for us and to continue to bless our evangelic labors which take place, as they do, in so many ways. I encourage you to invite your friends and neighbors to experience the richness and fullness of Orthodox Christianity. Welcome guests into your community as you would welcome Christ Himself. Reach out to those in need, especially to those who have nowhere else to turn in adversity. Willingly share your faith with any and all who will listen.
In addition to these simple forms of evangelization comes the opportunity and responsibility to provide financial assistance and support to the work of the Church through the annual Mission Appeal. This year, the proceeds from this annual appeal will benefit the five mission communities that have been designated as recipients of Church Planting Grants. These five mission communities, listed within this brochure, will be assisted in their first days as Orthodox Christian communities by your generous response to the 2006 Mission Appeal. Many other newly established missions are also in need of such support. Should the response to this year’s appeal be as generous as is hoped, a sixth mission will also be designated as a participant in the Church Planting Grant program. Please be aware, however, that it is only through your generosity that the Church can provide the necessary financial support to strengthen and expand such efforts.
In the midst of today’s society and the opposition and obstacles with which it confronts us, our efforts in proclaiming the Gospel may sometimes appear to be hindered. However, we cannot allow ourselves to become discouraged. Instead, if we remember how the Lord helped Saint Herman overcome innumerable obstacles as he worked to bring the Gospel to the native peoples of Alaska, we can trust that He will also bless us as we continue the legacy of evangelization which has been entrusted to us.
Thanking you in advance for your gift to the annual Mission Appeal, I remain
With love in Christ,
Archbishop of Washington and New York
Metropolitan of All America and Canada