Members of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) Board of Directors gathered for their annual Fall Meeting at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, November 18-20.
Through a live video link, OCMC Missionary Floyd Frantz shared with the Board the work he is doing in Alaska, based at St. Herman Seminary in Kodiak. After 18 years of service in Romania where he helped the Church establish a much-needed substance abuse counseling ministry, he is now helping the Church in Alaska do the same through a program called “Freedom Challenge.” The scope includes all forms of addiction, not only alcohol and drugs, but also the Internet and related distractions which affect many people in the state.
The Board also heard reports on OCMC’s work in various other locations throughout the world such as Guatemala, Korea, Albania, Kenya, and a potential new opportunity in Colombia.
This was the first meeting of the Board since it approved the organization’s innovative one-page strategic plan. OCMC Executive Director Fr. Martin Ritsi and OCMC Missionary Director Dn. James Nicholas were pleased to report progress on all aspects of the strategic plan, which is primarily focused on increasing the Mission Center’s capacity to do the important work of sharing the Orthodox Christian Faith around the world.
Board President John Colis led the members through an exercise aimed at better defining and applying OCMC’s core purpose as the agency begins development of the next iteration of the strategic plan early in 2020.
During a review of the organization’s financial performance this fiscal year, Fr. Martin was also able to share that the Mission Center received another clean audit of finances from its external independent auditors.
At Vespers on the evening of November 19 in the church of the adjacent St. Tikhon’s Monastery, Board Members, along with seminarians, their families, and the monks were able to venerate and be anointed with myrrh from a miraculous streaming icon of the Mother of God Kardiotissa (Tender Heart) that was brought from St. George Orthodox Church in nearby Taylor, PA. The Kardiotissa icon has been exuding great amounts of myrrh for seven years and is responsible for many healing miracles. Upon his return to the Mission Center, Fr. Martin blessed the OCMC staff with some of the myrrh as well.
That same evening, OCMC Board Member, and St. Tikhon’s Seminary Dean and Chief Operating Officer, Fr. John Parker hosted a dinner for board members at his home on campus. Joining the group at dinner was the Seminary Rector and long-time faculty member, His Eminence Archbishop Michael of New York and New Jersey of the Orthodox Church in America.
The Board welcomed five new members. His Grace Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, recently appointed liaison for OCMC to the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the Uniited States, addressed the meeting via a live video link. Two of the new members were present at the meeting: Dr. Henry C. Van Zanten of Hermitage, PA, from the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the USA and Dr. Kosta M. Zinis of Westminster, CO, from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Two others were also recently added: Mrs. Stellee S. Papadeas of Greenwood Village, CO, from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and Fr. John Anderson of Burke, VA, from the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.
The OCMC Board of Directors would like to thank Fr. John Parker and everyone at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary and Monastery for their hospitality and Fr. Mark Leisure from St. George Church for sharing the miraculously streaming icon of the Mother of God Kardiotissa with all in attendance.