The Orthodox Church in America relies on the stewardship of its faithful to support ministries in communities across America and around the world. As the Stewards of the Orthodox Church in America Annual Appeal approaches on November 19, Donna Karabin writes about how the Department of Christian Service and Humanitarian Aid has been able to strengthen the life of our communities with the generous support of the Church’s dedicated Stewards.
The fullness of Orthodox Christian life is found and nurtured in the liturgical worship and sacramental grace granted to us in the Church. We proclaim with joy that “Jesus Christ died for the life of the world,” and we express our faith in following His Gospel by serving one another in love.
While it is natural for us to live out our faith in caring for those in need, we can be more effective when we have a way to communicate with the clergy and lay leaders who help guide us.
The Department of Christian Service and Humanitarian Aid fills that vital role. Its focus is on parish ministries, charitable outreach, senior life and family life, always striving to encourage compassionate and charitable ministries in all levels of the OCA.
Our programs, resource materials and ongoing work are important factors in building up vibrant Christ-centered parishes throughout the Church.
For example, our Parish Ministry Resources is an online library of nearly 300 articles categorized under eight ministry themes, ranging from theology of lay ministries to community service. These are practical applications of successful parish ministries written by and for people of all ages in their reaching out to those in need, both within and outside our parishes.
As part of our family life and senior life ministries, we also provide two comprehensive legal documents for end-of-life care, approved by the Holy Synod of Bishops, as consistent with the teachings of the Orthodox faith. We have made sure “A Gift for My Loved Ones” and its addendum are always available to assist individuals and families in making faith-informed decisions at such challenging times.
We are especially excited about our Compassion in Action parish ministry training, which is an advanced-level visitation ministry focused on personal presence. After launching the pilot program at Saint Mary Magdalene Church in Fenton, Michigan, several parishes have expressed interest in helping us expanding the program to communities throughout North America. We envision taking Compassion in Action to every parish in the OCA that wants it, but this will be possible only as far as it is funded sufficiently to enable the training and mentoring necessary for its success. The financial support offered by the Stewards offers great hope.
Our entire department asks that parishes, organizations and all of our brothers and sisters in Christ contribute financially to the OCA during this annual appeal. The support of our Stewards is not just for any one program or ministry, but is truly a contribution “for the life of the world.”
—Donna Karabin, Chair, Department of Christian Service and Humanitarian Aid