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Assembly of Bishops Convenes in Chicago

The Assembly of Bishops has issued the following release. Also available is a Message to the Faithful, and a photo gallery.

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America held its third annual meeting for all member hierarchs, that is, all active canonical bishops in its region. The meeting was held from September 10-12, 2012, at the Chicago O'Hare Hilton in Chicago, Illinois. Forty-three bishops were in attendance.

Giving and Parish Council Resources Available from Department of Stewardship

The Department of Stewardship highlights two new online sections dedicated to strengthening our parish communities. 

52-Week Giving Campaign: The Campaign is a program led by the Parish Council, based on scriptural and church teachings, and not focused on the parish’s financial condition. Councils can study this Fifty-Two Week model, and then either implement the full program as outlined (a year-long teaching process) or adapt portions of the program to local parish realities. Includes a range of supporting articles.

Parish Council Guidebook: A guide to conducting the work of the Parish Council in a manner consistent with Orthodox Christian teachings and traditions. This manual is a resource for instructing Parish Councils on their lay ministry, and training new Parish Council Members. Includes supporting articles from Metropolitan Philip and Archbishop Joseph.

Fifty-Two Week Giving Campaign

The Department of Stewardship provides the Fifty-Two Week Parish Giving Campaign, and supporting articles. The Campaign is a program led by the Parish Council, based on scriptural and church teachings, and not focused on the parish’s financial condition. Councils can study this Fifty-Two Week model, and then either implement the full program as outlined (a year-long teaching process) or adapt portions of the program to local parish realities.

Fifty-Two Week Parish Giving Campaign (PDF)

"This fifty-two week parish member giving campaign is constructed based on a basic goal, that the Parish Council is prepared to lead the parish toward a member giving program based strictly on scriptural and church teachings and not on the parish’s financial condition. The relative financial condition of the parish, while important to communicate to the members, should not be the driving force in determining what members contribute."

The Trail of the Tithe

By Fr. Thomas Zell

"While tithing is a critical practice of the Old Covenant, it did not originate with Moses and the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai. In the biblical account, the tithe actually shows up some five centuries before the Law was given. We first hear of it in the Book of Genesis."

Read More

Parish Council Guidebook

The Department of Stewardship provides the Parish Council Guidebook to conducting the work of the Parish Council in a manner consistent with Orthodox Christian teachings and traditions. This manual is a resource for instructing Parish Councils on their lay ministry, and training new Parish Council Members. The draft Guidebook continues to be revised. Also available below are supporting important articles.


Parish Council Guidebook

"The goal of this guidebook will be to help Parish Councils better prepare themselves to understand and to follow the principles of Orthodox Christian parish governance. To what extent are parishes being governed by Orthodox Christian principles? The Orthodox faithful do not, by and large, live in the cloistered environment of a monastery. They do not teach at or attend seminaries. They do not work in diocesan or archdiocesan offices, nor do they serve fulltime in charitable or missionary agencies. Given this reality, the parish is the key environment for most Orthodox Christians to learn about and to know the true mission and purpose of the Orthodox faith. Orthodox parish governance is the best vehicle through which to teach the beauty and the truth of what it means to be an Orthodox Christian within the realm of the secular world."

Download the Parish Council Guidebook (PDF) 

Changing Our Patterns of Giving: Exploring the Virtues and Wisdom of Tithing

By Ron Nicola, Chairman of the Department of Stewardship of the Antiochian Archdiocese

From The Word, October 2005

The concept and practice of tithing is being talked about more frequently throughout the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese. To some, this is a positive and long overdue development. For others, discussion of tithing within the context of the Orthodox Church is both confusing and unfamiliar. It is true that the practice of tithing has not been common within most Orthodox communities in North America, but this does not mean that a discussion of tithing is out of place. In fact, just the opposite is true. There is nothing about tithing that places it out of the realm of the Orthodox Church, other than the fact that it has not been part of the tradition of our churches for the past few generations. There are countless individuals and some entire parishes within the Antiochian Archdiocese who currently tithe. Their example is a beacon for the rest of us to learn from and follow.

The Parish, the Priest and the Parish Council

Primate’s Message Delivered at Biennial Parish Council Symposium

By Metropolitan Philip

From The Word, December 1994 

Esteemed members of Parish Councils:

On behalf of the entire Archdiocese, I would like first and foremost, to welcome you to the Antiochian Village and especially to the Heritage and Learning Center. While here, I am sure that you will have the opportunity to see our camping facilities where your children spend some of their summer. You will also see our library which now houses more than twenty-five thousand volumes. Moreover, you will see our museum and School of Iconography, our beautiful dining room and the rest of our fine facilities. Surely, without your cooperation, the Heritage and Learning Center would never have existed. I am most thankful to you.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Bishop Demetri Khoury Releases Prophetologion E-Book

His Grace Bishop Demetri Khoury has released an extensive book (available in electronic PDF format) titled Prophetologion, containing the Old Testament readings for the ecclesiastical year.

The full text of the book is available here. You can follow Bishop Demetri through his personal website, Al Moutran.

From the Introduction:

"The Prophetologion is a companion to the Book of Epistles and the Gospel to provide the Church with a complete set of readings for all occasions and celebrations of the year and for special blessings and prayers. Because the only exposure most Eastern Christians had to the Old Testament was from the readings during services, the Prophetologion can be called the Old Testament of the Byzantine Church."

An Appeal from the Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Church

A countless number of Christians and Muslims are victims of the violence; the hospitals are full with injuries and the pain is endless. Syrians, in spite of their religious backgrounds, have the right to live in their country with pride and dignity. During the past fifteen months, we have lost many people and a large number of Syrians were forced to evacuate from their homes. Christians had to flee their towns, cities and everything they own, and our beloved priests had to leave their churches.

We call all Syrians, in the name of God, to accept each other and live as one nation in our beloved Syria, the cradle of prophets and religions. We urge the United Nations and all Arab organizations to understand and respect our beloved country and to work together in order to achieve peace and stability in Syria.

Ignatius IV
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East

Bishop Alexander Audio Interview Available

His Grace Bishop Alexander of the Diocese of Ottawa has been interviewed as part of an ongoing series produced by the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America. The interview is available here. His Grace mentions:

"The best thing for the meeting was that we all got together, we got to meet each other, we got to speak to each other face-to-face and to know each other. And at that point in time I thought that if the Assembly accomplished anything it would be to bring us all together."

Upward, Inward

Excerpted from “Out Of The Depths Have I Cried: Thoughts on Incarnational Theology in the Eastern Christian Experience,” by Metropolitan Philip Saliba and Fr. Joseph Allen, Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1979

We are never totally aware of how God is moving in our lives, how He is active in our existence. We do know that He is there, that “in Him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). We are in Him and He is in us. But we are never totally conscious of just how He is there, and what are His motivations for our lives.

The Fathers of the East have known this truth of His “incomprehensibility” and have variously expressed it, remembering that we see, as Saint Paul said, “darkly, as through a glass.” Not understanding completely, we wonder in fact if we can lure Him into doing what we want. We make a “deal”: if this happens, I will do this or that. We sometimes make our faith conditional, even though our faith must be there in spite of what happens – not because of what happens.

We try to comprehend it all rationally, with our heads, but it does not work like that. We know such things not with our heads; we know them with our hearts – we intuit, we perceive, we sense, we experience. This is dangerous, as we will see, and yet it is truly the deepest kind of knowing.

But even with this kind of knowing, God’s existence in our lives remains only partially in our awareness; the rest is out of our awareness.

Archdiocesan Clergy Gather for Symposium at Antiochian Village

Clergy Symposium Vespers at the Village CampClergy Symposium Vespers at the Village CampBishops and clergy from across the Archdiocese have gathered this week at Antiochian Village for the 17th Biennial Clergy Symposium, a time of reflection, fellowship, and learning. His Eminence Metropolitan Philip and the Antiochian House of Studies are the hosts for a full week of speakers, sessions and events. The Archdiocese is honored also to have in attendance His Eminence Metropolitan Silouan of Argentina.

The theme of this year's gathering is Ministry to the Youth: "Let no one despise your youth" (1 Timothy 4:14). Highlights include keynote addresses on such topics as "Issues of Spiritual Development and Youth", "Issues of Sexuality", and "Issues of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse"; an evening Camp Program presented by Village Camp youth; a grand dinner with Metropolitan Philip; and more.

Ancient Faith Radio will be providing recordings of selected presentations and sessions. See AFR's special section on the Symposium here.

Patriarchate of Antioch Report on Syrian Aid

The Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development for the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, has released an extensive report on aid and relief provided by the Church during the crisis in Syria. The report states:

Fifteen months have passed under the Syrian crisis, while the international community still attempts to finalize a peaceful solution to safeguard the stability and sovereignty of the country and of the people of Syria. In the meantime, directly affected people and internally displaced Syrians are still living in uncertain conditions, and are still depending on aid provided by the government through the Syrian Red Crescent, and aid from many local charities and local NGOs. ...

In witnessing the above challenges, The Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development (DERD) at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East has responded immediately to the emerging needs of the Syrian unrests. DERD has mobilized its human and financial resources to assess the needs and classify the urgent needs in order to proceed with its humanitarian aid programs. An appeal was launched to all Orthodox Antiochian Archdioceses and to all partners under the blessing of the Primate of the Antiochian See, HB Patriarch Ignatius IV, to request immediate support in order to enact national and church responsibilities towards the affected people.

Read the full report (PDF).

Tornado Damage at Antiochian Village (Updated)

The staff at Antiochian Village writes:

You may have heard that a tornado hit the Antiochian Village Camp and St Thekla Monastery on Friday, June 1st at approximately 5:20 PM. Thanks to our gracious and loving God, the members of our staff were in St Ignatius Church at the time praying the Paraklesis to the Mother of God when the tornado struck. No one was hurt. However there is extensive damage at the camp. We have hundreds of trees down and eighteen of our buildings were impacted by the tornado and tree debris. We have already started the clean up process. We have much work to do to get the camp back in shape. Please keep us in your prayers. We will provide updates as we have more information.

The staff update from June 3 reads:

Thank you for your love and support as we bounce back from the tornado. We have received many offers of help in the clean-up process. Under the advice of our insurance company, at the present time we are NOT accepting volunteer help. We are using professional services as much of the initial work can be quite hazardous. If we get to a point where we can use volunteer help, we will put a call for your assistance. Thank you again for your outpouring of love. We are so thankful to God for our safety and all of the wonderful people who are ready to pitch in.

The staff update from June 10 reads:

A Reminder to Lebanese Citizens in the United States

His Eminence Metropolitan Philip wishes to remind all Lebanese citizens residing in the United States that they must register by December 31, 2012, in order to qualify to vote in the Lebanese 2013 elections. All necessary information can be easily accessed through the website of the Embassy of Lebanon in Washington, D.C.

Doctor of Ministry Program

Accredited through the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, the ministry program offers working ministers a chance to deepen their knowledge and widen their impact by earning a doctoral degree.

This program is open to those who have already been serving for at least two years in full-time ministry. The D. Min. program consists of coursework taken on site in ministry, ecclesiology, canon law, homiletics, spirituality and pastoral care.

For more information, contact Fr. Joseph Allen, Chairman of Theological & Pastoral Education.

Phone: (201) 784–2501

Pastoral Marriage and Family Counseling Certificate Program

This program is a two year training program for clergy, parish staff or Christian Education persons each having an M.Div degree or diploma through the House of Studies and three years' parish experience. It is designed to prepare parish staff in counseling individuals, couples, and families in the parish and larger community.

The program is offered in two week modules (5 days each) twice a year in May and August/September. The first two courses are being offered May 13th– 17th and 20th-24th followed by August 25th– 30th and September 1st-6th, 2013.

Download 2013 Program Brochure (PDF)



  • Foundations of Marriage and Family Counseling
  • Christian Anthropology and Human Development in the Family Life Cycle
  • Pastoral Care and Professional Ethics
  • Pastoral Counseling: Skills and Models
  • Pastoral Marriage Counseling
  • Pastoral Family Counseling
  • Psychopathology
  • Marriage and Family Counseling Practicum


Each course cost is $300. Room and board will be determined by occupancy requested.

Application Process

Registration Deadline Jan. 31, 2013

Applications can be obtained from Amy Stiffler, Director of Event Services & Inside Sales at Antiochian Village at or by calling 724-238-3677 ext. 408.

St. Stephen's M.A. Program

What It Is

The St. Stephen’s Master of Arts program offers an accredited graduate degree in Applied Orthodox Theology. This course is designed for those interested in rigorous graduate education in theology.

Many St. Stephen’s graduates desire further doctoral education, but need master’s-level training. It is the perfect option for students who want a master’s degree, either for teaching, ministry, or personal enrichment.

The M.A. thesis program exists under the auspices the Balamand University, Lebanon.

Balamand University grants successful students a Master of Arts in Applied Orthodox Theology in the Eastern Christian Tradition. The degree is administered in the U.S. by the Antiochian House of Studies and accredited by the Republic of Lebanon, under the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch.

Completion of the the House of Studies programs does not guarantee ordination. In Fall 1993, Metropolitan Philip of Blessed memory decreed that a St. Stephen Certificate or Master’s is necessary, but may not be sufficient, for major ordination in the Antiochian Archdiocese.

How It Works

Students who undertake this achievement work for four years, completing all the course work (identical to  the St. Stephen's Certificate program), plus researching and writing a thesis.The St. Stephen’s Master of Arts in Applied Orthodox Theology consists of five components:

a) intensive reading
b) substantive writing
c) active directed ministry project
d) a yearly residency at the Antiochian village
e) a master’s thesis

Guided Reading

St. Stephen's Certificate Program

The most popular program of the House of Studies offers a certificate in Orthodox Theology. This intensive three-year course is for laymen or clergy interested in a rigorous introduction to Orthodox faith and practice.

Anyone with a high school diploma may apply. Some students are in college, some already have received their Bachelor's degree. Many St. Stephen’s Certificate students already have advanced degrees (M.A, M.D., Ph.D.) but want a master-level education without the master’s thesis itself.

What It Is

This three year directed reading course immerses students in Eastern Orthodox theology, history, and spirituality through intensive reading, writing, directed ministry, and local residency classes.

These formal, graduate level courses challenge the students and enable them to acquire a solid theological base, along with the ability to apply that knowledge.

While completion of the House of Studies programs does not guarantee ordination, the Certificate Program is the ideal option for those seeking enrichment, deeper knowledge, and entrance into a growing community of alumni.

The St. Stephen’s course is self-directed. This means the student is in control of his or her time commitment. Most students are full-time professionals, teachers, students, or parents, and they are able to gain graduate-level formal in Orthodox Theology during their evenings, weekends, and blocks of free time.

Furthermore, St. Stephen’s is ideal for music directors, youth ministers, and artists.

House of Studies Academic Programs

The Antiochian House of Studies offers four distinctive programs in Orthodox Theology and ministry. 

St. Stephen’s Certificate of Theology Program

The most popular House of Studies program offers a non-accredited certificate in Orthodox Theology. This certificate is for laymen or clergy with college diplomas who are ready for a rigorous graduate education in Orthodox Theology.

Under the guidance of Orthodox professors and pastors from across the United States, students engage in a challenging three-year distance education program consisting of reading, writing, directed ministry, and a residency. (Note: The certificate program is not currently accredited.)

St. Stephen’s Master of Arts Program

The St. Stephen’s Master of Arts in Applied Orthodox Theology offers an accredited graduate degree for those interested in rigorous graduate education in theology.

Under the guidance of Orthodox professors and pastors from across the United States, students engage in a challenging three-year distance education program consisting of reading, writing, directed ministry, and residency, and a master’s thesis.

St. Stephen's Youth Ministry Concentration

The St. Stephen's Program is a graduate-level directed-reading course of studies in Applied Orthodox Theology. Successful completion of the program leads to a Diploma in Applied Orthodox Theology.

House of Studies Testimonials

The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield, Chancellor of St. Vladimir’s Seminary (Orthodox Church in America):

The Doctor of Ministry Program in the Eastern Christian Context has proven perfect for many of us who have come to Holy Orthodoxy with theological degrees and pastoral experience from various Western Christian traditions. Bringing with us the best of our past, and maintaining our pastoral ministry, we work towards a degree which helps form in us a deeper understanding of the “Orthodox way.”

The Rev. Fr. Dumitru Macaila, Pittsburgh, PA (Greek Orthodox Diocese of Pittsburgh):

I enrolled in the Doctor of Ministry Program in the Eastern Christian Context to refresh myself and become better prepared for “Confrontation.” After four seminars, I feel my priestly knowledge and experience are enriched. We doctoral students learn not only from each other’s strengths — but from each other’s weaknesses also.

The Rev. Fr. Kenneth M. Bachofsky, Warren, OH (American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Diocese of the U.S.A.):

I have cherished the personal growth, a new appreciation of the Faith, and camaraderie with fellow priests and colleagues. If it were for this alone, I would have entered the program. [But it has also] enriched my pastoral ministry in many ways, and I know that it has benefited my parish as well, because it has sensitized me to their needs and concerns.

I cannot find enough words to express my immense gratitude at finally meeting everyone.

Fr. Maximos Nnachette of Nigeria

Clergy Symposium

Every two years, the Antiochian House of Studies host the symposium for Orthodox bishops, priests, and deacons.

Priests and deacons of the Antiochian Archdiocese, in addition to invited clergy and laity, attend lectures and forums relevant to the theory and practice of Orthodox ministry rooted in the spiritual and historical roots of the Church.

This conference takes place on the third or four week in July in even-numbered years, such as 2012, 2014 and 2016.

Contact Fr. Joseph Allen for more information:

About the Antiochian House of Studies

Sponsored by the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, the Antiochian House of Studies proctors distance-learning, organizes local residencies, and hosts national symposia that gather pastors, professors, bishops and laymen from all over the world in a study of the history, liturgy, and practice of theology.

Some students are Orthodox bishops, priests, deacons, laymen, church school directors, youth workers, chanters, altar servers, monks, nuns, priests.

Others are pastors or laymen from various Orthodox jurisdictions and other Christian denominations, including Anglican, Lutheran, Baptist, Episcopalian, Methodist, Roman Catholic, and many more.

Still others are university professors, psychologists, high school teachers, iconographers, physicians, attorneys, homemakers, accountants, business people, retirees, mothers, and fathers.

The House of Studies students come from all walks of life, but they are united by two things: their love for God, and their love of learning.

Assembly of Bishops Protests Decision by United States Dept. of Health and Human Services

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America has issued the following statement of protest:

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, which is comprised of the 65 canonical Orthodox bishops in the United States, Canada and Mexico, join their voices with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and all those who adamantly protest the recent decision by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and call upon all the Orthodox Christian faithful to contact their elected representatives today to voice their concern in the face of this threat to the sanctity of the Church’s conscience.

In this ruling by HHS, religious hospitals, educational institutions, and other organizations will be required to pay for the full cost of contraceptives (including some abortion-inducing drugs) and sterilizations for their employees, regardless of the religious convictions of the employers.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion. This freedom is transgressed when a religious institution is required to pay for “contraceptive services” including abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization services that directly violate their religious convictions. Providing such services should not be regarded as mandated medical care.  We, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops, call upon HHS Secretary Sebelius and the Obama Administration to rescind this unjust ruling and to respect the religious freedom guaranteed all Americans by the First Amendment.

Archbishop Joseph Interviewed for Assembly of Bishops Series

His Eminence Archbishop Joseph of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West has been interviewed as part of an ongoing series of interviews with the member bishops of the Assembly of Canonical Bishops of North and Central America. Listen to the interview here.

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