Kenyan Mission Priest Building the Orthodox Church in South Africa

Fr. Athanasios Akunda, the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) Fall 2003 Lecture tour speaker and mission priest in South Africa, has been successfully making known the growth of the Orthodox Church in South Africa in Orthodox communities in New England, Pennsylvania and New York. He is fully supported by OCMC’s Support A Mission Priest (SAMP) program and is one of the first SAMP mission priests to serve as a missionary outside of his own country.

Fr. Athanasios expressed his gratitude in having the chance to be OCMC’s featured lecture tour speaker, “I thank all of you for your interest, material and financial help to the Church in Africa, especially in South Africa, through the Orthodox Christian Mission Center.”

A native of Kenya, Fr. Athanasios accepted the call to bring the Good News of the Gospel of Life to South Africa, a land where the average person dies before their forty-seventh birthday. Asked by His Eminence Seraphim Archbishop of Johannesburg and Pretoria and serving under his guidance, Fr. Athanasios arrived in South Africa in May 2002. He worked closely with Steve Hayes, a missiologist in Pretoria, and has helped to establish Orthodox Christian communities in seven towns in South Africa. Each community began with only a handful of catechumens and without any permanent worshiping structure.

Fr. Athanasios traveled to homes to teach the Faith and held Sunday services in borrowed classrooms. Eventually a few young men and women were trained as catechists, and a deacon and a priest were ordained as the first local indigenous clergy. Orthodox readers services were introduced and translated into five languages so that corporate worship could continue even with no clergy.

In November 2002, His Beatitude, Patriarch Petros of Alexandria visited South Africa and performed a historical mass baptism of 47 catechumens. Since that time 73 more people have been baptized into the Church. That community, named after St. Seraphim of Sarov, is in the town of Soshanguve where today there are 200 more people learning about the Faith. In six other towns in South Africa there are almost 400 more souls being introduced to the Orthodox Church.

Fr. Athanasios Akunda, OCMC’s Fall Lecture tour speaker, came to the United States with the goal of raising enough money to build churches for all these newly illumined Orthodox Christians to worship in. He has hopes to build community centers where people may receive medical care and provide daycare for children. The community in Soshanguve is the first place with plans to build a church and a home for their recently ordained priest.

If you would like to help Fr. Athanasios build the Church in Soshanguve, South Africa, please send your contribution, referenced to Lecture Tour: c/o the Orthodox Christian Mission Center at PO Box 4319, St. Augustine, FL, 32085-4319.

The Orthodox Christian Mission Center is the official international mission and evangelism agency of the Orthodox Churches in North America under the Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops in America (SCOBA). Originally founded in 1985 as an arm of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America, the Mission Center was transferred to SCOBA in 1994.

Operating from its headquarters in St. Augustine, Florida, OCMC offers assistance and support to over 25 countries throughout the world.