Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America - Russian Church Outside of Russia http://www.chicagodiocese.org/ 60 "A Door Opens in Colombia:" Reflections on Archpriest Peter & Matushka Styliana Jackson’s Mission Trip to Kogi Tribe http://www.chicagodiocese.org/news_150628_1.html Mon, 29 Jun 2015 00:00:00 -0400 <div><img border="0" hspace="5" vspace="0" align="left" src="http://www.chicagodiocese.org/display_image.php?ext=jpg&relativeimage=images/jacksons201.jpg&archive=0&final_h=281&final_w=375&percent=100"><p>June 26, 2015 "A Door Opens in Colombia:" Reflections on Archpriest Peter &amp; Matushka Styliana Jackson&rsquo;s Mission Trip to Kogi Tribe We have just returned from a successful mission trip to the Kogi Indian people of Colombia. With the death of Archimandrite Andr&eacute;s, the planned seminary in Guatemala will not be happening, but we give glory to God for this new opportunity in Latin America. Before we became Orthodox, Matushka and I were evangelical missionaries in Colombia for ten years, where Matushka&rsquo;s family had been working since 1964 with the primitive Kogi people, the most traditional of Colombia&rsquo;s 70+ Indian tribes. My work was to translate the New Testament into the Kogi language. The ten-thousand-strong Kogi have preserved their own language and culture and still wear their traditional white clothing. Ever since we became Orthodox and returned to the U.S., we have felt a burden to bring Orthodoxy to the Kogis. About 100 Kogis have become evangelical Christians over the years, and they suffer great persecution from the rest of the tribe, which is stridently pagan. The Kogi Christians have also suffered violence from Marxist rebels. We have always believed that Orthodoxy would make sense to them, if only they had the opportunity to learn about it. The antiquity and tradition of Orthodox Christianity is likely to appeal to them. After being away from the Kogi for two decades, a door of opportunity opened for us on the sad occasion of Matushka&rsquo;s father&rsquo;s funeral this past March. The Christian Kogis arranged for his burial up in their mountain territory. We traveled in a caravan of 4-wheel drive vehicles for two hours up a windy, unpaved road into the Indian reserve. The Kogis had dug a grave in their traditional fashion, with an alcove at the bottom to slide the casket into so that the dirt would not fall directly on it. They had even cut steps into the steep trail up to the gravesite so that Matushka&rsquo;s mother could make her way up. There are no flat spaces in Kogi country! Kogi burial practices have some striking parallels with Orthodoxy. The grave is oriented toward the east. They have a special memorial on the ninth day. They also prepare special food in memory of the deceased. Clearly, the Kogis&rsquo; traditions have more in common with Orthodoxy than with their current non-traditional Protestantism. At the end of the funeral, Matushka and I sang "Aji aluna shuigazhalika nzha" &ndash; "Memory Eternal" in Kogi. Juan Carlos Gil, whom we had not seen since he was a boy, is now a grown man with children. He is the pastor of the Christian Kogis. Juan Carlos asked us about the hymn we sang. Matushka told him that it was the first Orthodox hymn ever translated into the Kogi language. Juan Carlos volunteered, "I want all of the Orthodox hymns translated into our language." We learned that Juan Carlos has begun to translate the Old Testament into Kogi. He happily accepted my offer to help him with this project. With the blessing of His Grace John, Bishop of Caracas, we returned to Colombia in April to meet with Juan Carlos and share Orthodoxy with him, as well as discuss Bible translation matters. He had just returned from a gathering of Christian leaders from a number of Colombian Indian tribes who are forming an organization to cooperate and support one another. The timing of our meeting with Juan Carlos could not have been better, since he returned from this meeting with some pressing questions: What kind of "denomination" should the Kogi Christians belong to? What kind of statement of faith should they have? He could see that the Christian Indian leaders of other tribes each had their own theological slant, and there was already trouble coming up with a common creed among them. How could the Pentecostal Christianity that Juan Carlos was groomed in speak to the spiritual needs of tradition-minded Kogis? He did not realize that Orthodoxy would have the answers to all of these questions. We spent two days discussing Church history and theology. Juan Carlos soaked it all up like a sponge. He liked the idea of conciliarity: that the Church is governed by councils of bishops. This is very much how the Kogis govern themselves, with councils of mamas, Kogi shamans. This made more sense to Juan Carlos than the evangelical anything-goes attitude, where each individual decides for himself how to interpret the Scriptures and how to run the Church. He said that this smacked of "Westernization," of which he and other Christian tribal leaders are leery. The idea of oral tradition also resonated with him. He had never understood why the evangelicals who educated him were so opposed to this. Oral tradition is a fundamental aspect of Kogi culture. I showed him a timeline of Church history, explaining how Orthodoxy has remained unchanged since the Apostles, and how all of the Protestant groups that he was acquainted with are recent schisms from schisms from schisms. He asked where Lutherans fit into the timeline. He was shocked to see that even they were a relatively recent development. He told me that he had been to a Lutheran service, and he was attracted by their use of ritual, which makes sense to a Kogi. Evangelicalism is hostile to ritual, which leaves Kogis at a loss. Kogis are serious people, and the happy-clappy style of worship does not fit with their culture, but this is all that the Kogi Christians have ever been taught. Juan Carlos was happy to see that Orthodoxy has preserved ancient Christian rituals intact. When we discussed the Nicene Creed and the filioque issue, he volunteered that the Orthodox view of the Trinity made more sense to him. He was basically making an Orthodox confession of faith! We showed him videos of indigenous Aleut and Maya Orthodox Christians in Alaska and Guatemala, which helped him see that indigenous peoples are at home in Orthodoxy with their languages and cultures. We also talked over some Bible translation issues that he has been struggling with, and since then we have been e-mailing about these matters. Matushka&rsquo;s family is happy for me to be helping with the translation work once again, and this gives us an opening to keep working with the Kogi. Next month, we will make another trip down to speak some more with Juan Carlos. There is still a lot of ground to cover. While there, we hope to help him get his passport and then try to get him a visa for the U.S., because the next step will be to bring him to the U.S., so he can see Orthodoxy firsthand. Any decision he makes will affect his flock of 100 Kogi Christians, and ultimately the thousands of Kogis who are not yet Christian. Our mission in Colombia is under the omophorion of Bishop John, but ROCOR does not yet have a presence in Colombia. The Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC)&rsquo;s policy is that missionaries have to work under a bishop of an already-existing Orthodox community in a given country. OCMC understands our call to work with the Kogi people and is supportive. However, they cannot let us use our OCMC funds at this time. Once we have established an Orthodox community among the Kogis, we will be able to access those funds, which have been set aside for our mission work. In the meantime, at OCMC&rsquo;s suggestion, we are raising funds apart from OCMC. The mission fund at Sts. Theodore Church in Buffalo, NY (of which Fr. Peter was rector until 2014 &ndash; ed.) has been a lifesaver in this regard. Your support is bringing Orthodoxy to an indigenous people who are hungry for a Christian Faith that is ancient, traditional, unchanging, sober-minded, and conciliar. It is only through your prayers that this important work is able to continue. Checks should be made out to Sts. Theodore Orthodox Church. Be sure to designate "Jacksons Mission Fund." Sts. Theodore Orthodox Church Attn.: Treasurer 96 Los Robles Street Williamsville, NY 14221 Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese www.eadiocese.org</p></div> Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America - Russian Church Outside of Russia http://www.chicagodiocese.org/news_150628_1.html Statement from the Diocesan Chancery on the Contemporary Question of Homosexual Marriage to the Clergy and Flock of the Diocese http://www.chicagodiocese.org/news_150626_1.html Fri, 26 Jun 2015 00:00:00 -0400 <div><img border="0" hspace="5" vspace="0" align="left" src="http://www.chicagodiocese.org/display_image.php?ext=jpg&relativeimage=images/supreme-court-building-in-black-and-white-val-black-russian-tourchin.jpg&archive=0&final_h=250&final_w=375&percent=100"><p>Statement from the Diocesan Chancery on the Contemporary Question of Homosexual Marriage to the Clergy and Flock of the Diocese March 16/29, 2013 Martyrs Sabinus and Papas Updated November 8/21, 2014 Archangel Michael and All the Bodiless Powers Updated June 13/26, 2015 Martyr Aquilina of Byblos in Syria Today the United States Supreme Court ruled that homosexual marriage is a constitutional right in the United States of America. Given the ubiquitous coverage the news media is providing on this issue it is important that our clergymen and parishioners fully understand the position of the Church in this regard. Living in a free society as we do, we should first be thankful that we have the opportunity to practice our Orthodox Faith without inordinate interference from the government. In recent history this was not the case in Russia, and is still not the case in many countries throughout the world. In a free society all views can be shared in the public arena &ndash; both views we agree with as Orthodox Christians and those we disagree with. We call upon our flock to be guided first and foremost by the Holy Tradition of the Church in discerning whether any contemporary question is something that is compatible to the Orthodox faith. If an Orthodox Christian chooses to engage in public political discourse this should be done with moderation and with a firm intention and watchfulness not to fall into extremism. Extremism is not conducive to softening hearts or bringing others to the faith. Laymen who choose to engage in political speech should not state that they speak on behalf of the Church. Strictly speaking such an authoritative statement can be made only by a bishop or with a bishop&rsquo;s specific blessing. It should also be made clear that living a homosexual or any other sinful lifestyle is not compatible with Christianity and this has always been the teaching of the Church. That being stated, it is also crucial to state that the Church is a Spiritual Hospital and all those wishing to receive the healing freely offered by God through their repentance and God&rsquo;s Grace are fully welcome. This includes those who have participated in immoral or unnatural acts of any kind as well as those who are tempted by such sins. The Church is empathetic to those who suffer in such a way and offers them support, healing, and Christian love. Those actively engaging in any immoral or unnatural pursuits cannot live a full sacramental life within the Church. However, this does not mean that we seek to drive away or ostracize those who have transgressed in such a way. Rather, we must make all efforts to draw those in such an unfortunate situation back to chastity and the opportunity to again partake in the Life-Giving Mysteries of the Church and to engage the struggle for their salvation within the parish community. Today's Supreme Court ruling makes homosexual marriage legal in the United States. It should be made clear that under no circumstances will the Church recognize homosexual marriage, accord it the status of traditional marriage, or bless such unions. However, this is not to state that those who have entered into such a union have stepped beyond a line from which they cannot return. The Church has always strongly condemned heresies (such as Novatianism, Montanism, and Donatism) which deny the possibility of repentance for those having committed certain sins. It is crucial that our clergymen not shy away from the position of the Church as regards the sinfulness of homosexuality and other unnatural expressions of the God-given gift of human sexuality &ndash; but it is also crucial that such statements be made with love and with a corresponding invitation to repentance and reconciliation with the Church. We call upon all to pray for our land &ndash; that the Lord will forgive us our collective societal sins as well as our personal sins and provide us a safe haven which allows us to work out our salvation in peace.</p></div> Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America - Russian Church Outside of Russia http://www.chicagodiocese.org/news_150626_1.html St. George parish holds Vacation Church School http://www.chicagodiocese.org/news_150625_1.html Fri, 19 Jun 2015 00:00:00 -0400 <div><img border="0" hspace="5" vspace="0" align="left" src="http://www.chicagodiocese.org/display_image.php?ext=jpg&relativeimage=images/2015/Vacation-Church-School-Cincy/zf.jpg&archive=0&final_h=281&final_w=375&percent=100"><p>The youth at St. George parish in Cincinnati have just wrapped up an exciting week of Vacation Church School. Twenty-seven parishioners ranging in age from four to 12 assembled each day to pray, study, dance and socialize. This year&rsquo;s theme was &ldquo;Lives of Virtue.&rdquo; St. Innocent of Moscow, St. Nikolai of Zica, Matushka Olga Michael and Fr. Roman Braga each served as examples of Christian virtues. By learning about these people who lived lives of &ldquo;habitual excellence&rdquo; here in America, each student was encouraged to follow in their footsteps. Students began each day at 10 a.m. with morning prayers. This was followed by daily classes in Church Singing (taught by Larissa Sander), Russian (Maria Hoyle), and the Law of God (Fr. Daniel Marshall, Matushka Bethany Akmolin, Martha Baier, and Maria Demidova). Other activities included Russian Folk Dancing and a variety of arts and crafts. Students listened to the lives of the saints from St. Nikolai Velimirovich&rsquo;s Prologue during lunch each day and said evening prayers together prior to going home at 3 p.m. One day, the school and several parents visited a local park and then volunteered at Matthew25 Ministries, a local charity which redirects industrial waste to poverty-stricken areas around the world. Our particular task was to sort and then find pairs from among thousands of shoes discarded by a chain of tuxedo rental stores. These will be distributed to people who have no shoes, thus saving them from ending up in a garbage dump. Students also made greeting cards and art works to share with parishioners who are ill or unable to leave their homes. The school was only possible with the support and talents of a number of parishioners. In addition to the significant labor by the teachers, daily lunches were prepared by Natalya Glazman, Susanna Oakley, Irina Chvalyuk and Collen Petrovsky. Food was supplied by the parish Sisterhood. Martha Baier designed a beautiful t-shirt which each student received on the last day of Vacation Church School. Thanks be to God for a wonderful, spiritually-beneficial week!</p></div> Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America - Russian Church Outside of Russia http://www.chicagodiocese.org/news_150625_1.html Pastoral School 2015 Graduation http://www.chicagodiocese.org/news_150623_1.html Sat, 20 Jun 2015 00:00:00 -0400 <div><img border="0" hspace="5" vspace="0" align="left" src="http://www.chicagodiocese.org/display_image.php?ext=jpg&relativeimage=images/PSgrad15/IMGP0457.jpg&archive=0&final_h=250&final_w=375&percent=100"><p>On June 7/20, 2015 the Pastoral School of Chicago and Mid-America marked its ninth annual graduation. Before Vigil at the Diocesan Cathedral of the Protection of the Mother of God in Des Plaines, IL three students received their diplomas in Pastoral&nbsp; Theology (title of thesis in parentheses): Deacon Nicholas Olsen (&ldquo;Establishing an Authentic Orthodox Culture in America&rdquo;) Michael Diaz de Leon (&ldquo;The Hebrew Calendar Reform: Impact and Implications for Orthodox Calendar Reform&rdquo;) Vesselin Krastsev (&ldquo;A Brief History of Byzantine Monasticism&rdquo;) Earlier that day the students had defended their theses and successfully passed oral exams before a board consisting of His Grace Bishop Peter of Cleveland (President of the School), Archpriest Andre Papkov (Vice President of the School), Archpriest Martin Swanson (Dean Emeritus of the School) and Archpriest Gregory Joyce (Dean of the School). This year the Pastoral School had 60 students participating in its distance learning format courses. The distance learning format allows students and instructors to participate in regular and lively classroom discussions on-line. Many public and private universities use this format which engages the students in almost constant interaction and learning. Distance learning provides the student with a full complement of resources which are available at any time and at any place. For more information on the Pastoral School please visit the school&rsquo;s web site: http://www.orthodoxtheologicalschool.org/ The application period for the fall semester is now open. Students must apply not later than September 1 to be considered for admission. Please note that Pastoral Theology majors&rsquo; wives may register at a discounted rate for the Orthodox Studies major. Students may wish to apply before the September 1 deadline so that they can take advantage of the need-based scholarships available to incoming students (applications for scholarship are due August 15). More information on admissions may be found at this link: http://www.orthodoxtheologicalschool.org/admissions-overview/admissions-information More information on scholarships may be found at this link: http://www.orthodoxtheologicalschool.org/admissions-overview/scholarships Please note the Catechist Certificate program which is also accepting applications. The Catechist Program is modeled on the program outlined by the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church held in 2013.</p></div> Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America - Russian Church Outside of Russia http://www.chicagodiocese.org/news_150623_1.html Bishop Peter in Fargo for All Saint's Day http://www.chicagodiocese.org/news_150615_1.html Sun, 07 Jun 2015 00:00:00 -0400 <div><img border="0" hspace="5" vspace="0" align="left" src="http://www.chicagodiocese.org/display_image.php?ext=jpg&relativeimage=images/2015/fargo/er.jpg&archive=0&final_h=250&final_w=141&percent=100"><p>On the Feast of All Saints, His Grace Peter, Bishop of Cleveland, Administrator of Chicago and Mid-America Diocese celebrated an Altar Feast at All Saints Orthodox Church in Fargo, ND. Rev. Fr. Antony Alekseyenko (Acting Rector) served the Blessing of Water and blessed the whole church. Also after Pascha iconostasis was fixed. Vigil was served by Rev. Fr. Joseph Towne, and Liturgy on Sunday of the Feast was served by Bishop Peter with Rev. Fr. Antony Alekseyenko and Rev. Fr. Joseph Towne. The local Orthodox community attended the services and communed Holy Gifts. After the Liturgy Moleben and Cross procession were served, during which the church was blessed from all four sides. On June 14, Rev. Joseph Towne served the Liturgy of All Russian Saints.</p></div> Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America - Russian Church Outside of Russia http://www.chicagodiocese.org/news_150615_1.html Bishop Peter attends the celebrations of the 25th Anniversary of the Canonization of St John of Kronstadt in St. Petersburg, Russia http://www.chicagodiocese.org/news_150613_1.html Wed, 10 Jun 2015 00:00:00 -0400 <div><img border="0" hspace="5" vspace="0" align="left" src="http://www.chicagodiocese.org/display_image.php?ext=jpg&relativeimage=images/2015/BP-in-SPb-st-john-of-kronstdat/_PSA8839.jpg&archive=0&final_h=250&final_w=378&percent=100"></div> Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America - Russian Church Outside of Russia http://www.chicagodiocese.org/news_150613_1.html Pentecost (Photoreport) http://www.chicagodiocese.org/news_150601_1.html Sun, 31 May 2015 00:00:00 -0400 <div><img border="0" hspace="5" vspace="0" align="left" src="http://www.chicagodiocese.org/display_image.php?ext=jpg&relativeimage=images/2015/Pentecost/zd.jpg&archive=0&final_h=250&final_w=376&percent=100"><p>The photoreport of the celebration of Pentecost in the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America.</p></div> Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America - Russian Church Outside of Russia http://www.chicagodiocese.org/news_150601_1.html Funeral of Archpriest Paul Bassett (corrected version) http://www.chicagodiocese.org/news_150529_1.html Fri, 29 May 2015 00:00:00 -0400 <div><img border="0" hspace="5" vspace="0" align="left" src="http://www.chicagodiocese.org/display_image.php?ext=jpg&relativeimage=images/bassett/34.jpg&archive=0&final_h=250&final_w=374&percent=100"><p>On Thursday, May 15/28, 2015 the funeral rite of a priest was served at the&nbsp;St.&nbsp;George parish church in Cincinnati, OH over the&nbsp;earthly remains of Archpriest Paul Bassett, longetime Rector of this community. &nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-family: book antiqua; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: book antiqua; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p></div> Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America - Russian Church Outside of Russia http://www.chicagodiocese.org/news_150529_1.html