Each year, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America designates the Sunday before US Thanksgiving Day as “IOCC Sunday.” This year’s commemoration falls on Sunday, November 24. [The complete text of the Assembly of Bishops’ IOCC Sunday Encyclical appears below.]
The Orthodox Church in America’s Department of Christian Service and Humanitarian Aid [CSHA] urges clergy and faithful in all parishes and dioceses to support IOCC ministries on IOCC Sunday.
“Every dollar given helps IOCC secure $6.98 in support from governments, foundations, ecumenical organizations and other funding sources,” said Donna Karabin, CSHA chair. “According to IOCC’s audited financial statements for 1992 through 2010, a full 92% of IOCC’s resources are used for humanitarian relief and development programs.”
International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is the official humanitarian aid agency of the Assembly of Bishops and is supported by generous donations from Orthodox Christians. Since its establishment in 1992, IOCC has provided emergency relief, sustainable development and self-help programs to people in need worldwide. Programs are active in more than 50 countries across Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America. All assistance is provided based on need without discrimination and benefits orphans, refugees and displaced persons, the elderly, school children, families and people with disabilities. The IOCC website has news of country programs and of the growing IOCC Emergency Response Network that has been activated several times in the US this year.
Download free IOCC Sunday resource materials and bulletin announcements at www.iocc.org/dayofsharing.
Contributions can be made on-line at www.iocc.org, by toll free call to 1-877-803-IOCC (4622), or by mail to IOCC, PO Box 17398, Baltimore, MD 21297-0429.
IOCC SUNDAY ENCYCLICAL
Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
November 24, 2013
To the Most Reverend Clergy, Venerable Monastics and Devout Faithful of the Holy Orthodox Churches in the Americas:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,
On this Sunday before Thanksgiving, we begin to turn our attention to the week ahead with great anticipation. Beloved families and friends will gather together from near and far. The dinner table will be laden with our favorite foods, and we will give thanks to our Heavenly Father for the blessings that make this gathering possible.
As much as the Thanksgiving holiday is a day of gratitude, it is also a day of sharing. Had it not been for the kindness of Native Americans sharing their bounty with defenseless Pilgrims seeking refuge in a foreign land, all of the struggling families may have perished. It is with this same compassion and caring for others that International Orthodox Christian Charities, or IOCC, lives its mission each day, tirelessly responding to Christ’s call to help our neighbors in need without discrimination.
IOCC, the humanitarian arm of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, has been sharing the compassion of the Orthodox faithful with those in need since 1992. Through your generous support, IOCC has delivered $438 million in humanitarian assistance to vulnerable families and communities in more than 50 countries.
From its first airlift of food and medicine to the former Soviet Union, to its current efforts as one of few humanitarian agencies working inside Syria to aid thousands of families displaced in their own war-torn country, IOCC demonstrates daily the impact of our faith in action. Through IOCC’s close work with the Church, impoverished families in Greece have access to fresh, nutritious food and medical care; struggling farmers in Kosovo are learning new ways to grow cash crops and rise out of poverty, and the children of Cameroon are thriving with access to clean, safe drinking water.
Despite the distance that may separate us from those in need, we are nevertheless bridged by Christ’s love. The willingness to share your blessings with them through IOCC carries with it the power to help transform thousands of lives around the world. And so we designate this day each year as IOCC Sunday, and embrace the message of St. John to aid those who suffer for “if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (1 John 3:16]. By sharing your abundance today, you commend the larger vision of unity that lies before us, and you open your heart to greater love for others and to the everlasting grace of our Triune God.
We ask that you remember our brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering in the face of poverty, war or natural disaster. And we pray that the abundant blessings of our merciful God be with you and your family during Thanksgiving and always.
With paternal blessing and love in Christ,
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America