Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord:
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations. (Matthew 28:19)
At the recent Spring Session of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, I was happy to report that eighty-four new parishes and missions have been planted across North America since 1994. Today, just two months later, I am equally happy to report that seven additional parishes and missions have been established! Strong prospects for planting even more communities in the near future continue to present themselves, confirming the desire of so many to bring the saving message of the Risen Christ to any and all who would listen and respond.
Preparing dedicated and visionary clergy, choir directors, religious educators, and lay church workers is the task of the Orthodox Church in America’s seminaries. Students at Saint Tikhon Seminary in South Canaan, Pennsylvania and Saint Vladimir Seminary in Crestwood, New York not only study Scripture, doctrine, liturgical worship, patristics, and Church history, but they are prepared to meet the challenge of a Church growing in diverse regions and settings across North America. Saint Herman Seminary in Kodiak, Alaska shares in this process by preparing clergy and Church workers to meet the unique needs of the faithful in the very region in which Orthodoxy first took hold on this continent over 200 years ago. The need for well-trained clergy to nurture new communities, as well as to revitalize those which are well established, has never been more urgent.
For nearly seven decades, our seminaries have enthusiastically embraced their calling to equip God’s People with all that is necessary for building up the Body of Christ. Lacking the vast endowments and unlimited resources which secular institutions often possess, our seminaries have relied and continue to rely on the generosity of the faithful to provide all that is necessary to the formation of pastors, teachers, and lay ministers. Hand in hand with the growth of the Church, our seminaries have also grown, and their growth would have been impossible if not for the generosity you have shown in years past.
Your generous support of the Orthodox Church in America’s 2003 Seminary Appeal will help to ensure that our seminaries will be able to continue their mission the same mission shared by the entire Church as it strives to bring the fullness of the Gospel to every corner of this vast continent. The generosity you display today will not only ensure that our seminaries will be able to meet their present needs and maintain their current programs, but will help in strengthening and expanding their mission to equip those who have a burning desire to fulfill God’s great commission now and in the future.
I pray that you will join me in supporting the work of our seminaries, so crucial to the ongoing growth of the Church. And I pray that God will bless you abundantly as we continue to work together for the building up of His Body, the Church.
Thanking you for your commitment and generosity to Christ and His Holy Church, I remain
With love in Christ,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada