Congratulatory Letter of SCOBA Hierarchs on the Occasion of the 15th Anniversary of International Orthodox Christian Charities

Monday, June 04, 2007

To the Most Reverend Clergy, Venerable Monastics and
The Devout Faithful of the Holy Orthodox Churches in the Americas.

Dearly Beloved in Christ,

The history of IOCC is a history of compassionate love for all people. As this SCOBA Agency celebrates its 15th anniversary, we congratulate IOCC, the faithful steward who multiplied the talents given by our Lord Jesus Christ. IOCC first received the SCOBA blessing and mandate in 1992. In the Name of Christ and in the spirit of Orthodoxy IOCC has gone forth to 33 countries and delivered more than $250 million in emergency aid and development programs. Like the Good Samaritan who brought the wounded man to the inn, IOCC delivers the blankets, the food, the hygiene, and other materials needed in emergency situations, and then returns to provide the assistance that will enable the poor and the dispossessed to become truly self-sufficient.

Responding to the call of the Gospel, IOCC manifested the love of God to all peoples suffering from civil war during the tragically violent dissolution of Yugoslavia. The refugees and displaced peoples of Bosnia who received blankets and food from IOCC, now receive micro-financing loans for small businesses. IOCC has brought home construction and repair assistance, youth education and training programs, and civil society development so that they might regain their self-sufficiency.

With God’s help and the support of Orthodox Faithful, IOCC built on this record of faithful service by its response to the 2004 tsunami, delivering millions of dollars in emergency aid to Indonesia. It assisted islanders off the coast of Sumatra to rebuild their destroyed villages. It provided for the recostruction of homes, a water supply system, trauma counseling, nutrition programs and livelihood recovery assistance. In our own country, following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina that ravaged the Gulf Coast region, IOCC provided emergency assistance, and continues to send work teams to help re-build homes.

In Russia and Georgia, IOCC has manifested God’s mercy by providing loans for small businesses, tractors and seeds for farmers, empowering communities in partnership with local organizations. In the Holy Land, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan, IOCC continues to provide job skills training and job creation, school building and repair, child nutrition programs, and educational training, while not neglecting the needs caused by the recent wave of violence. In Romania and Ethiopia, IOCC is engaged in extensive HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention programs in cooperation with the local Orthodox Church that are reaching millions of people.

Over the past 15 years, IOCC has fulfilled the yearning of the Orthodox Churches in America to manifest the spiritual power of the Gospel and the compassion of Christ by bringing God’s deliverance to all peoples suffering from disasters, whether made by nature or made by man. In this fifteenth anniversary year we bestow our hierarchical blessings upon IOCC and encourage all those under our episcopal care, clergy and lay alike, to support this unified and critically important humanitarian ministry of our Orthodox Churches in the Americas.

+Archbishop DEMETRIOS, Chairman
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

+Metropolitan PHILIP, Vice Chairman
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

+Metropolitan CHRISTOPHER, Secretary
Serbian Orthodox Church in the USA and Canada

+Metropolitan NICHOLAS of Amissos, Treasurer
Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese in the USA

+Metropolitan HERMAN
Orthodox Church in America

+Archbishop NICOLAE
Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America & Canada

+Metropolitan JOSEPH
Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church

+Metropolitan CONSTANTINE
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA

+Bishop ILIA of Philomelion
Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America