The Very Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky, Assistant to the Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America for Interchurch Relations and Ecumenical Witness, spoke at the Overseas Ministries Study Center [OMSC] Student Seminars on World Mission on Thursday, January 10, 2002.
In his lecture, titled “The Orthodox Church: Its Mission in Russia and Beyond,” Father Kishkovsky reflected on Orthodox Christianity’s experience in Russia since the fall of communism.
“It was the Liturgy and worship of the people that enabled the Church to prevail and thrive after the fall of the soviet regime,” said Father Kishkovsky.
Tracing the history of the Orthodox Church and its missionary spirit from the time of the Apostles up to the present day, Father Kishkovsky explained to the students gathered from across the US that some of the most vivid examples of Missionary Action and success came from Orthodoxy.
“Orthodoxy is a faith strong in the Resurrection, through the celebration of the Divine Liturgy and the Liturgy after the Liturgy: that of sharing the Faith in love and compassion,” Father Kishkovsky stated.
OMSC was founded in 1923 with the express purpose to increase interest in foreign missions, to aid students in preparing for mission service and to assist those doing mission work.
“Having come in contact with OMSC over 10 years ago,” Father Kishkovsky said, “it became apparent to me that here was a group of Protestant individuals who were willing to hear what we as Orthodox had to say about missionary efforts. This was not an opportunity that we wanted to miss.”
In explaining the historical missionary efforts of the Orthodox Church, Father Kishkovsky spoke about the growth of programs in North America, specifically through the St. Augustine, FL-based Orthodox Christian Mission Center [OCMC].
Father Kishkovsky noted, “OCMC is an Orthodox center both for practical mission projects and for thinking through what evangelization and re-evangelization mean in today’s world.”
Father Kishkovsky fielded questions at the end of his presentation.
“All Mission is Christ centered,” Father Kishkovsky replied in response to a question about Orthodoxy’s missionary goals. “Orthodox missionaries do not attempt to impose a foreign culture or language. The goal is to provide a means to understand the Church and the Gospel of Christ.”
Since his initial introduction to the activities of the Overseas Ministries Study Center, Father Kishkovsky has been a regular participant in lectures and presentations at their Madison, CT facilities. In June 2001, he was elected to OMSC’s Board of Trustees, the first Orthodox Christian to hold this position.