News From the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC)

Monday, February 05, 2007



St. Augustine, FL – It was a sunny Saturday morning that welcomed two large tour buses to the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) this past weekend. As the breaks hissed and the doors flew open, Mission Center staff, and former Mission Center Executive Director Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos, was honored to receive 40 members of the National Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society. Having traveled from around the country, the ladies, escorted by His Grace Bishop Andonios of Phasiane and lead by Philoptochos National president Georgia Skeadas, came to visit the Mission Center that has been a proud recipient of its generous support for decades.

Comprised of parish chapters throughout the dioceses of the United States, the National Philoptochos Society has served as the leading ladies philanthropic organization of the Greek Orthodox Church in America for the past 75 years. It serves to address issues of poverty and to promote the charitable, benevolent and philanthropic purposes of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. It is also dedicated to preserving and perpetuating Orthodox Christian concepts and the Orthodox Christian Family, and through them, promoting the Greek Orthodox Faith and traditions.

In accordance with this mission, the Philoptochos has extended its reach beyond American borders, directly affecting the lives of many around the world, through its continued support of the Mission Center. Over the past 10 years Philoptochos has contributed over $500,000 to the Mission Center’s many mission initiatives. A major recipient of these funds has been OCMC’s Support a Mission Priest Program (SAMP). Today, SAMP sponsors 289 indigenous Orthodox Clergy around the world with financial stipends that make their ministries possible. The number of souls brought to Orthodoxy by the tireless efforts of these Orthodox priests is too large to be known. What is known, however, is the fact that Philoptochos has made the spread of Orthodoxy possible by enabling these priests to dedicate their lives to ministry.

Following a sincere welcome from the Mission Center’s Executive Director, Fr. Martin Ritsi, the group was escorted on a tour of the Mission Center that included brief presentations from the Mission Center’s various departments aimed at familiarizing them with the Mission Center’s programs and daily operations. Their tour concluded with a final presentation by Fr. Martin and Presbytera Renee that reinforced the need for the continued growth of missions among the Orthodox Churches in America. Through sharing their personal missionary experiences, they also took the time to thank Philoptochos for their continued support of this growth.

As the gathering drew to a close, Ms. Skeadas, presented the Mission Center with a $20,000 check for OCMC’s SAMP program. This sizable donation will allow the Mission Center to sponsor even more clergy throughout the world in the coming years. Kenneth Kidd, Coordinator of the Mission Center’s SAMP program reminds, “This one gift equates to the support of 33 priests for an entire year. The ladies’ generosity has given this program a much appreciated early-year boost.”

After coffee and dessert, flash bulbs flickered as the procession of philanthropists exited the building. “It has been a true blessing to serve these ladies,” His Grace Bishop Andonios said to the staff as they prepared to depart. This sentiment was shared by the entire Mission Center, whose work toward proclaiming the fullness of the Christian faith to all nations is made possible by the love expressed in profound acts of charity like those of the National Philoptochos Society.

The Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) is the official international mission agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), commissioned to proclaim the fullness of the Christian faith to all nations by establishing and nurturing vibrant, Eucharistic Orthodox Christian communities worldwide.If you would like more information about the Mission Center's Support a Mission Priest Program (SAMP), please contact Kenneth Kidd at 1-877-463-6784 or by e-mail at

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