Orthodox Christians respond to ongoing tragedy, needs

In an effort to provide a unified witness in the aftermath of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Orthodox Christians in the New York City area, as well as throughout the nation, are pulling together to address ongoing and emerging needs.

The centerpiece of the pan-Orthodox effort, the “National Orthodox September 11 Relief Hotline,” is establishing a national toll-free hotline for anyone in need of trauma counseling and for those wishing to share their concerns within the context of the tragedy or to offer their assistance to relief and support efforts. Coordinated by International Orthodox Christian Charities [IOCC] and based at Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church on Manhattan’s lower East Side, the hotline will be staffed by trained Orthodox Christian volunteers between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. EST daily. The toll-free number is 877-774-0217.

According to officials at the Chancery of the Orthodox Church in America, a meeting of New York City area Orthodox clergy is slated to be held at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan headquarters in Manhattan on Wednesday, September 19 to explore possibilities for long-term pan-Orthodox cooperation and witness in response to the crisis.

The Relief Hotline is also coordinating efforts at the “Family Center” set up at Chelsea Piers on Manhattan’s lower West Side to provide spiritual support to those who rely on the center as a point of contact for information on individuals unaccounted for after the attack on the World Trade Center. An effort is also being mounted to enlist Orthodox youth and young adults from throughout the metropolitan area to assist with the distribution of food, clothing, and other essentials to affected families and relief workers, police and fire personnel, and others at “Ground Zero.” Manhattan’s Jacob Javits Center serves as the site of these relief efforts.

“During the week after the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center, the Orthodox communities in the metropolitan area have responded admirably,” according to Protopresbyter Robert Kondratick, OCA Chancellor. “OCA parishes in the area, especially Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral on the lower East Side, have increasingly become involved in local efforts, yet during the past week it has become evident that the needs extend far beyond the New York City area.”

Orthodox Christians interested in assisting the National Orthodox September 11 Relief Hotline are encouraged to call the Hotline’s toll-free number.