Skip to Navigation

dcramer's blog

Featured Parish: St. George Church + Troy, MI

St. George is a parish of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. The mission of St. George Church is to serve God and the Greater Detroit Area by commitment to the Gospel Command and to grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ through faith, hope, and love. St. George Church follows the faith and practice of the Apostles and Disciples of Christ handed down by the ancient Christian fathers and twenty centuries of Church tradition. Genuine Christian life nurtures and stimulates our spiritual and moral development.

June 16, 2010 + Singing the Blues?

By Fr. James Meena, The Word, February 1979

When we are feeling depressed, as though our contacts with God have been disrupted, or when we question the wisdom of God or wonder if God is even there, it’s time for us to look into the Scriptures which are full of instances when the people of God felt precisely this way, and when God reminded them of the perfection of His concern for their well-being. When we labor under a great deal of stress or tribulation, rather than wondering whether God has forsaken us, we should realize that God often chastens and strengthens us through suffering and pressure.

The anxieties that we feel were also felt by His most faithful disciples and followers. Isaiah, that great prophet, addressing a people who were supposed to believe in God says: “How can you say, O Jacob, and how can you insist, O Israel, my destiny is hidden from the Lord, my rights are ignored by my God? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is an everlasting God. He created the boundaries of the earth. He does not grow tired. He does not weary. His understanding is beyond understanding. He gives strength to the wearied. He strengthens the powerless. Young men may grow tired and weary. Youths may stumble, but those who hope in the Lord renew their strength. They stretch out wings like eagles. They run and do not grow weary. They walk and never tire . . . (Isaiah 40:27-31) A fantastic admonition by a prophet who had suffered greatly at the hands of those to whom he was preaching, who must have felt many anxieties and often wondered whether God heard his prayers. But he makes an emphatic promise that though we may question and sometimes doubt, those who hope in God will have their faith renewed and that they will take on wings and soar like eagles.

Church School Passports?

By Carole A. Buleza, Director, Department of Christian Education

A few weeks ago I taught our parish high school students. When in the course of our discussion I asked what happens when we die, according to our faith, they were silent. I was puzzled.

My puzzlement was due to the fact that these students had all been taught in 8th grade from the textbook, The Way, The Truth, and The Life, which contains the basic tenets, prayers, and practices of our faith. During the course, the students take four exams, covering 100 questions, which are called educational standards. These were determined by the members of the Orthodox Christian Education Commission. They had all passed the course. So, why were they vague on my question, which is one of the standards?

SOYO Diocesan Nomination Form Available

Those running for SOYO Diocesan Office need to download the Diocesan Nomination Form and have it signed by their pastor and parent (if under 18) prior to the Parish Life Conference.  This form must be turned into your Diocesan Spiritual Advisor or Youth Director prior to your Diocesan SOYO meeting at the Parish Life Conference.

Family Camp Children Visit the Convent of St Thekla

On the weekend of May 28-31, 60 families were in attendance at the Antiochian Village Family Camp for a weekend of prayer, fellowship and fun in the sun. As part of the Morning Program on Saturday, the children were able to visit the Convent of St. Thekla in groups. It was a beautiful day, and they were able to walk down while enjoying the sights and sounds of the woods surrounding the Convent. During their visit to the St Thekla Chapel, Mother Alexandra spoke about importance of prayer and how God helps us through prayer. To the children's delight, the bird that nests next to the chapel was also present sitting on her eggs. No news yet of baby thrushes.

June 9, 2010 + From Homily XXI

The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the Gospel according to St. Matthew

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:24)

SEEST thou how by degrees He withdraws us from the things that now are, and at greater length introduces what He hath to say, touching voluntary poverty, and casts down the dominion of covetousness?

For He was not contented with His former sayings, many and great as they were, but He adds others also, more and more alarming.

For what can be more alarming than what He now saith, if indeed we are for our riches to fall from the service of Christ? Or what more to be desired, if indeed, by despising wealth, we shall have our affection towards Him and our charity perfect? For what I am continually repeating, the same do I now say likewise, namely, that by both kinds He presses the hearer to obey His sayings; both by the profitable, and by the hurtful; much like an excellent physician, pointing out both the disease which is the consequence of neglect, and the good health which results from obedience.

Living as a Christian in a Post-Christian World: Discernment

Archpriest George Morelli, Ph.D.

Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom 12:2)

It is increasingly difficult to live the life of Christ in the 21st century. Not to idealize a certain era or a previous generations, but I can personally attest that the world of my childhood was dramatically different from the world of today. This observation is all the more interesting, remarkable and self-evident when the technological changes are considered. Although I touch on the implications or effects of technology, the focus in this article is on Christ, His Teachings, His values, and the moral and the spiritual life that He commanded us to live. I focus on His Church in our lives, on living a life of Christ in the nuclear family, the domestic church (Morelli, 2009), and the interiorization of Christ which we are all called by our Baptism to attain so that we may “become partakers of the Divine Nature.” (2 Pt 1:4)

The generational contrast alluded to above dawned on me after watching the evening news as is my custom, while preparing dinner. In the area where I live, a celebrity gossip program, Thirty Mile Zone (TMZ), comes on immediately after the news. I usually change the station before this program comes on, but this particular evening I was engaged in another task, and in just the few minutes I saw of the program, I heard mentioned and ‘lionized’ a variety of manifestly un-Christ-like behaviors, among them promiscuity, unfaithfulness, and taking advantage of others for various gains.

Bishop JOSEPH Receives Honorary Doctorate from St. Tikhon’s Seminary

Much to the surprise of His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH, the faculty, trustees and students of St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary bestowed on Sayidna the Doctor of Divinity degree, honoris causa. In a gesture of brotherly love in Jesus Christ, His Grace, Bishop MICHAEL (outgoing seminary dean and now Bishop of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey, Orthodox Church in America) personally announced the award, recognizing Sayidna’s lifelong efforts to spread the Holy Gospel everywhere he has lived and shepherded. The honorary doctorate described Sayidna as a “loyal son of Antioch and devoted father in North America, illumined educator and patient shepherd, inspiring churchman and loving archpastor.” You can read the entire citation here.

Sayidna then had the honor and distinct pleasure of addressing the graduating class of 2010, their families and friends at the 68th Commencement exercises at St. Tikhon’s. At this institute of spiritual learning and refinement, Sayidna’s message centered on knowledge, but not the secular type that traps us in this world and deprives us from the life to come. Sayidna reminded the gathering that “the Theologian is one who prays.” His Grace’s message often cited that pillar of spiritual knowledge, the ecumenical teacher St. Basil the Great. Though this archbishop of Caesarea did not abhor secular learning, Sayidna quoted him as saying “the arrogance of philosophy has nothing in common with humility.”

Images of Episcopal Assembly Divine Liturgy from Bishop THOMAS

Bishop THOMAS has provided pictures of the Divine Liturgy that concluded the May 2010 North and Central American Episcopal Assembly. The Liturgy was served at Manhattan's Holy Trinity Cathedral.

Click here to view the photo gallery.

Message of the Episcopal Assembly Of the Canonical Orthodox Hierarchs of North and Central America, May 26-28, 2010

We glorify the name of the Triune God for gathering us at this first Episcopal Assembly of this region in New York City on May 26-28, 2010 in response to the decisions of the Fourth Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference held at the Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambésy, Switzerland, from June 6-12, 2009, at the invitation of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

Gathered together in the joy of the Feast of Pentecost, we humbly recognize our calling, in our unworthiness, to serve as instruments and disciples of the Paraclete, who “holds together the whole institution of the Church” (Hymn of Vespers of Pentecost).

We honor and express gratitude to the Primates and Representatives of the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches who assembled at the Ecumenical Patriarchate from October 10-12, 2008 to affirm their “unswerving position and obligation to safeguard the unity of the Orthodox Church” (Chambésy Rules of Operation, Article 5.1a) and emphasized their will and “desire for the swift healing of every canonical anomaly that has arisen from historical circumstances and pastoral requirements” (Message of the Primates 13.1-2)

We call to mind those who envisioned this unity in this region and strove to transcend the canonical irregularities resulting for many reasons, including geographically overlapping jurisdictions. For, just as the Lord in the Divine Eucharist is “broken and distributed, but not divided” (Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom), so also His Body comprises many members, while constituting His One Church.

Bishop MARK's Reflection on the Episcopal Assembly

Friday, May 28, 2010

Dear to God,

Christ is in our midst! By the grace of God we have completed our First Episcopal Assembly, chaired by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America and attended by 57 of the 65 Hierarchs of North and Central America. He is truly a gracious, loving and patient man and certainly a gift to our Church in North America. May God grant him good health and many years!

Recommendations were made to separate Mexico and Central America from our Episcopal Assembly as their needs linguistically and culturally are quite different. Hopefully, Mexico and Central America will be absorbed into the Episcopal Assembly of South America. Likewise the Bishops of Canada asked to form their own Episcopal Assembly and both requests will be forwarded to the Ecumenical Patriarch per the procedures out-lined in the Chambésy Documents.

The agencies of SCOBA were received by the new assembly which considers itself the successor of SCOBA. Monthly updates to a data base will assist in identifying Canonical Bishops, Priests, Deacons and Parishes. Joint Committees have been identified to ad-dress the common needs of the Orthodox Church here in the United States which will assist us in uniform articulation, discipline and expression of the One Orthodox Faith.

Bishop MARK Provides Pictures from Episcopal Assembly

His Grace Bishop MARK, of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest, has provided a selection of photos from the North and Central American Episcopal Assembly.

Click here to view the gallery.

His Grace also encourages all to read the Assembly addresses of Archbishop DEMETRIOS, Metropolitan PHILIP, Archbishop NICOLAE, and Archbishop JUSTINIAN.

Also, click here for a selection of articles on this historic gathering.

Fr. Andrew Damick Publishes Impressions from Episcopal Assembly

Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick, of St. Paul Antiochian Church of Emmaus, PA, has published his initial impressions of this week's North and Central American Episcopal Assembly, where he is present in an auxiliary role, on

It was a pretty hot day in Manhattan yesterday. Despite the discomfort, though, the Orthodox Christian hierarchy of North America seemed to be in pretty decent spirits.

I’m here in Manhattan at the 2010 Orthodox Episcopal Assembly of North America in an auxiliary role. I don’t get to attend the actual meetings, though I’ve been at some of the meals and have spent time with the hierarchs and others present in the halls of the hotel. Since this is such a genuinely historic occasion, we thought it might be of interest to readers to provide an informal witness to how things have been proceeding, to what it’s like to be here.

Read the full account here.

Fr. Andrew continues his reflection, with this second part.

Bishop THOMAS Provides First Pictures of Episcopal Assembly

His Grace Bishop THOMAS of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic has graciously provided the first pictures of the 2010 North and Central American Episcopal Assembly. Click here to view the gallery.

Make sure to check back over the course of the Assembly as this gallery is updated.

Images of the Assembly are also available via this gallery provided by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.

June 2, 2010 + The True Meaning of Feasts

by Very Rev. Stephen Rogers
from The Word, June 2001

Pascha . . . Pentecost . . . the Transfiguration . . . the Exaltation of the Cross . . . the Nativity ... Each year as the seasons change and the months roll by, the faithful of the Orthodox Church are called to celebrate a procession of feast days which commemorate important truths concerning our Lord and our faith in Him. Some people see feasts as much-anticipated celebrations; others see them as dreaded obligations. Whether we anticipate the feasts with joy or dread or indifference, there is a tendency to see them as events. We are celebrating an event which took place in the past, an historical event which marks an important moment in the history of our faith.

Even if we look toward the feast with joy and anticipation, if we are simply looking forward to an event, we are missing the point. For in celebrating the feasts of the Church merely as historical events, important as they may be, we are losing sight of the deeper truth and richer blessings God intends the feasts to bestow.

Saint Maximos the Confessor (662 AD) understood the true reason for days and seasons in the Church:

Working Committees, Archdiocesan Synod, and Board of Trustees Complete Their Meetings

On Wednesday May 19th The Constitution Reconciliation Committee met in Englewood, NJ under the chairmanship of His Grace Bishop JOSEPH.  The goal for this committee is to reconcile any remaining differences between the current Archdiocesan Constitution (approved by our General Assembly at a special meeting which was convened in Pittsburgh, PA in July 2004), and the Constitution that was approved by the Holy Synod of Antioch in October 2004.  The Committee conducted a line-by-line “read-through” of a document that highlighted the differences between the two constitutions.  The committee noted several areas where the changes introduced in the version approved by The Holy Synod of Antioch are acceptable, and should be recommended for inclusion in the Archdiocesan Constitution.  The committee also noted several areas where the changes need to be clarified and perhaps modified in light of the Self-Rule status that was granted to this Archdiocese by a Resolution of the Holy Synod of Antioch on October 9th, 2003.  The committee will meet again to finalize the recommended amendments.

Prayers for the North and Central American Episcopal Assembly

The Archdiocese encourages all her members to pray for the gathering of the bishops of North and Central America at this week's Episcopal Assembly in New York, NY. May our Lord through the Holy Spirit guide our hierarchs, and may His will be done.

In their announcement for the Assembly, the Orthodox Church in America offers this petition:

O All Merciful God! Grant our Hierarchs gathered in Episcopal Assembly to grow in wisdom and strength, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and to increase in love for each other, deepening Christian fellowship so that conciliar decisions may build up a canonically united Orthodox Christian Church of the Americas. May their work be guided by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and may the Spirit of unity and love, of compassion and mutual respect, inspire each to contribute toward the building up of the Body of Christ for the glory of Thy name, for Thou hast ordered us to do all things for Thy glory. Bless Thy people, uniting them for the building up of Thy Holy Orthodox Church of the Americas. O generous Creator; hear us and have mercy. For Thou art a merciful God, and unto Thee we ascribe glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese has published the opening remarks of Archbishop Demetrios, Assembly Chairman.

Matthew Namee Publishes Reflection on American Orthodox Unity Efforts

Matthew Namee has published the following reflection on historic efforts to bring together American Orthodox Christians, and the upcoming North and Central American Episcopal Assembly. The article is also available at, and as a podcast on Ancient Faith Radio.

We’ve tried this before. Over the past century or so, there have been no fewer than five attempts to bring the various ethnic Orthodox jurisdictions in America into some measure of administrative unity. Next week, from May 26-28, we embark upon a sixth effort — an effort which, compared to its predecessors, seems remarkably promising.

Working Committees, Archdiocesan Synod, Board of Trustees, and North and Central American Episcopal Assembly to Meet

May 17, 2010, Englewood, NJ

Over the course of the next two weeks, several meetings that are critical to the future of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, and all Orthodox faithful in North and Central America, will take place.

Beginning on Wednesday May 19th and Thursday May 20th, two working committees of this Archdiocese will meet in Englewood, NJ. Both committees were appointed by His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP in October 2009, and are chaired by His Grace Bishop JOSEPH. The Constitutional Reconciliation Committee will meet on Wednesday May 19th. The goal for this committee is to reconcile any remaining differences between the current Archdiocesan Constitution (approved by our General Assembly at a special meeting which was convened in Pittsburgh, PA in July 2004), and the Constitution that was approved by the Holy Synod of Antioch in October 2004. The second committee is chartered to study the current “Manual of Hierarchical Duties and Responsibilities” (originally approved by the Archdiocesan Synod on June 4, 2004, and amended on July 23, 2008). The committee will recommend changes to this manual in light of all of the events that have transpired since the last amendments were made.

The Archdiocesan Synod of Bishops will convene their regular Spring meeting in Englewood, New Jersey on Thursday May 20th in the evening, and will continue on Friday May 21st in the morning. Among the agenda items to be discussed will be the North American Episcopal Assembly which will convene in New York City on May 26th. In addition, each of our hierarchs will give a report on important developments in his diocese since the last meeting.

May 2010 Newsletter: The Flood Ceases

Dear Friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

This month we continue with our second booklet from the Book of Genesis – Noah to Abraham, including Chapters Chapter 8-20. These detailed notes help bring a better grasp of the verses found in the OSB – Old Testament and New Testament and confirm our need to know the Orthodox Church to grasp Holy Scripture. The format offers explanation and understanding of the verses with the notes based on the Fathers of the Church. New Testament Scriptures are underlined to show harmony with the Old. We hope you find the following snippet relevant to the season of the Last Supper, Pascha and the coming of the One promised by the Lord – the Comforter – the Holy Spirit.

See the attached PDF file for this month's full teaching.

Blessed Name's Day to Bishop MARK!

Many years to His Grace Bishop MARK!

We extend our prayers and love to His Grace, Bishop MARK of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest on the occasion of his Name's Day on April 25 (Holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark). May God grant him many years!

Let Mark, that most excellent of men, be extolled by us with songs and with divine hymns as Egypt’s fair and brightly shining light, as the all-wise preacher of the Father’s Son and Word, and also the divine author of the Holy Gospel of the Lord; for he intercedeth with Christ God that He grant peace and Great Mercy to our souls.

--Orthros of the Feast, Tone 1

Antiochian Orthodox Faithful Assist Haitian Earthquake Relief with Donation to IOCC

On Wednesday April 14, 2010, His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP, on behalf of the faithful of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, presented a check for $150,000 to International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) Executive Director and CEO Constantine M. Triantafilou, in the presence of His Grace Bishop ANTOUN, Order of St Ignatius of Antioch chair Dan Abraham, and IOCC board members the Very Rev. Michael Ellias and Anne Glynn Mackoul at Antiochian Archdiocese headquarters in Englewood, N.J. The gift was a result of the generous response of the Antiochian Orthodox faithful to the appeal that was made by His Eminence immediately after the earthquake struck Haiti.

Annual Meeting of the Archdiocese Department of Finance on April 13, 2010

Members of the Department of FinanceMembers of the Department of FinanceThe Archdiocese Department of Finance held its annual budget meeting on Tuesday April 13th, 2010 at the Archdiocese Headquarters in Englewood, NJ.

The main order of business was the development of the Archdiocese budget for the Fiscal Year 2012 (Feb. 1 2011 through Jan. 31 2012).

This budget was successfully developed by the members of the Department, and it will be submitted to the Archdiocese Board of Trustees for approval at their May meeting in New York City. The final step will be to submit the budget for approval to the assemblies of the Diocesan Parish Life Conferences as they meet this year.

Pictured: Mr. Paul Finley, Director of the Antiochian Village Heritage and Learning Center, Very Rev. Anthony Yazge, Director of the Department of Camping, Mr. Robert Laham, Treasurer, His Grace Bishop ANTOUN, His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP, Dr. George Farha, Vice Chairman of the Archdiocese Board of Trustees, Mr. Peter Dacales, Assistant Comptroller, and Mr. George Nassor, Assistant Treasurer. (NOTE: Dr. Farha and Mr. Nassor were unable to attend the meeting due to personal matters. Mr. Dan Abraham, North American Chairman of The Order of St. Ignatius, also attended the meeting but is not shown in the photo.)

Register for Antiochian Village Summer Camp 2010

Give your child a memorable experience this summer at Antiochian Village Camp under the leadership of our Head Counselors - Chris Shadid and Johanna Said! Register your children for camp for the summer of 2010 and let them build life-long friendships that are rooted in the Orthodox Faith and Jesus Christ. The summer of 2010 promises to be an unforgettable one at the Antiochian Village.

For more information on camping opportunities across the Archdiocese, visit the Department of Camping.

Syndicate content