Proclaiming the Resurrection of Christ to all Nations: OCMC Holds its 2008 Board Meeting in Troy, MI
May 15, 2008,
TROY, MI - From Tuesday, May 6, through Thursday, May 8, the Orthodox Christian Mission Center held its 2008 Spring Board of Directors Meeting in Troy, Michigan. The meeting was hosted by St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, under the auspices of the Metropolis of Detroit with the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas. Along with OCMC Board members from throughout the country representing the various jurisdictions of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas, Executive Director Fr. Martin Ritsi, Associate Director Fr. David Rucker, and Teams Department Director Andrew Lekos attended the sessions.
In addition to the regular business meetings, there were several missions-related events over the course of the week. On Tuesday evening, the OCMC Healthcare Committee sponsored a Health Outreach Event. This event, intended to raise awareness about medical missions, drew the largest turnout yet present for this event. Dr. Demetrios Kyriacou spoke about his recent OCMC Mission Trip to Ethiopia. This OCMC Team was sent in support of the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC)/Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC) Project in Ethiopia working with HIV/AIDS patients. Dr. Maria Vasilakis also spoke about her short-term Team experience. Dr. Vasilakis was part of a healthcare Team that ministered in Kenya, offering treatment to over 1000 medical patients and 200 dental patients. Dr. Spero Kinnas, OCMC Board Member, updated participants on the work of OCMC long-term Missionaries Floyd and Ancua Frantz in Romania.
A highlight of Wednesday's proceedings was the Missions Banquet held at St. Nicholas Church. The banquet was opened in prayer by Fr. Martin Ritsi with a warm welcome from Fr. Stratton Dorozenski, pastor of the host church. Fr. Iakovos Olechnowicz, currently presbyter at the Greek Orthodox Mission in Traverse City, MI, gave the Keynote Address. Fr. Olechnowicz spoke about his time as a missionary in South Africa, and about the difficulties of working with a different culture, language, and worship style. He also discussed the stresses and challenges of working through the remnants of the Apartheid. OCMC Associate Director Fr. David Rucker offered the closing remarks.
Board member Pat Crosson, who coordinated this Board Meeting, was happy to have these missions events taking place in his home parish. He stated that his hope was "to create greater Mission Awareness in the larger Detroit area through this event."
The Board Meeting was opened with a Bible study/presentation by Board Secretary Fr. George Liacopulos titled "Person to Person-The Building Blocks of Mission & Evangelism." The "Building Blocks," according to Fr. George, are Listen, Learn, and Love. Fr. George gave wonderful examples of the use of these building blocks throughout the Gospels and Epistles.
After this opening Bible study, Fr. Martin Ritsi, OCMC Executive Director, presented the Operational Plan update. He spoke on the "highlights, challenges, and emerging visions" of work at OCMC this spring. Fr. Martin challenged the Board to think about strategies for "evangelism in new regions;" he also brought up several "soul-searching questions" about the spirit and goals of OCMC. These questions, according to Fr. Martin, are not bad questions to ask, but are "another sign of development, of growth and of positive change in the mission field."
Following Fr. Martin's report, Directors of the Teams and Missionary Departments gave reports. One issue that was highlighted as a top priority was the need to recruit qualified more missionaries for long-term service.
An update on the progress of the building program was given. The new Orthodox Christian Mission Center Administration and Training Center in St. Augustine, FL is currently scheduled to be completed in December of 2008. The grand opening celebration, chaired by OCMC Board Past President Helen Nicozisis and planned by a Board committee, is scheduled for May of 2009.