On March 16, 2011, the Orthodox Church in America’s Charity Committee announced that $5,000.00 has been earmarked to assist International Orthodox Christian Charities [IOCC] in its relief efforts in Japan.
“As we continue to pray for the victims of the ongoing disaster as a result of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, we likewise call upon the faithful of our Church to support IOCC’s work in assessing and addressing relief efforts in conjunction with its partners and the Autonomous Orthodox Church in Japan,” said His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah. “In this context, and in the same spirit of caring so evident in similar appeals in the past, all parishes and faithful are asked to offer financial assistance to IOCC, to which all donations and financial support should be directed.”
The Holy Synod of Bishops asks that special collections for this purpose be taken in all parishes on the second and third Sundays of Great Lent, March 20 and 27. All contributions should be sent directly to IOCC—not to the OCA Chancery—at PO Box 630225, Baltimore, MD 21263-0225. Individual donations may be made on-line at www.iocc.org or by calling toll free at 877-803-4622.
The Japanese Orthodox Church’s East Japan Diocese, headquartered in Sendai, was especially hard hit, according to His Grace, Bishop Seraphim (Sigrist), former Bishop of Sendai, now a retired hierarch of the Orthodox Church in America.
“I lived in Sendai for 15 years and every year went up and down the coast, visiting the towns whose horrific images are all on our televisions,” Bishop Seraphim said. “I just want to attest, however, not to my personal feeling, but to the goodness of the people of those places—Ishinmomaki, Kesanuma, Sakari—all as of this moment out of contact, and Yamada, whose little church was washed away in the tsunami. But it is the people, also suffering in their homes and lives as well as in the loss of their church, in which for generations they persevered in so many difficult times, that surely your heart as well as mine goes out to and whom we want to stand with and help them in this time. Through them I have no doubt that the Orthodox Church will endure there, but through your help how much more they will be encouraged, renewed, and strengthened in its mission.”
It has been reported that there are over 20 parishes in the East Japan Diocese, served by five priests, one of whom has been missing since the earthquake.