...I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me (Matthew 25: 34-36).
To the Clergy and Laity of the Holy Orthodox Churches in America,
These words of Christ are found in the parable of the Last Judgment. The teaching is unmistakably clear. When we serve our brother and sister who are in need, we minister to Christ himself. Love expressed in service to the hungry and thirsty, the stranger and the naked, the sick and the imprisoned is the basic and most important “measure” of our faithfulness to the Gospel of Christ.
The creation of International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) in March 1992 by the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) was an important milestone in our life and witness as Orthodox Christians in America, because it opened the possibility of reaching Orthodox Christians abroad. In IOCC we have a visible and tangible way to respond together - as a community of faith - to the teaching of Christ.
Indeed, we have responded together, as Orthodox Christians of America. Through the work of IOCC we have responded in regions and countries devastated by economic crisis and war. In Russia and Georgia, in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro, in Romania, in Albania and the Middle East and Ethiopia, IOCC has served the poor and the sick, the internally displaced and the refugees.
Through IOCC we have begun to respond together to human need and suffering in the United States. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, IOCC assisted the Orthodox communities in the New York area to respond pastorally to the needs of suffering and traumatized people.
The month of March in the year 2002 marked the tenth anniversary of International Orthodox Christian Charities. We mark this anniversary with gratitude to God, and with our archpastoral blessings to all those who give their support to IOCC and to all those who labor on the IOCC staff and programs. We urge all Orthodox Christians in America to offer strong support to IOCC - through prayer and through gifts of money and other resources. In IOCC we, the bishops and clergy and laity of the Orthodox churches in America, have a common instrument to do the work of Christ’s compassion.
We commend to the attention of all the Orthodox faithful and all Orthodox parishes the words of the Mission Statement of IOCC:
The Mission of IOCC is to respond to the call of our Lord Jesus Christ to Minister to those who are suffering and are in need throughout the world, sharing with them God’s gifts of Food, Shelter, Economic Self-Sufficiency, and Hope.
We urge all in the Orthodox communities to see and understand the mission of IOCC as our common mission and commitment.
With Paternal Blessings and Love in Christ,
+Archbishop DEMETRIOS, Chairman
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Orthodox Church in America
+Metropolitan PHILIP, Vice Chairman
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
+Metropolitan JOSEPH, Locum tenens
Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America and Canada
+Metropolitan CHRISTOPHER, Secretary
Serbian Orthodox Church in the USA and Canada
Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church
+Metropolitan NICHOLAS OF Amissos, Treasurer
American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese in the USA
Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA