The Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) benefit dinner on May 13 raised awareness for global Orthodox mission work and featured the presence and remarks of Elpidophoros, Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and Chairman of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, of which OCMC is an affiliated organization.
“Today, we are missionaries with purpose, with a plan. OCMC organizes and empowers those who feel the vocation to share the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ with the world,” said Archbishop Elpidophoros. “The commandment to preach the Gospel to all nations has never changed. Orthodox Christians engage (the world) in order to share the good news of God’s providential love for all humankind. The work of OCMC is a labor of love.”
The event was hosted by the parish of Saint Katherine in Falls Church, VA and attracted attendees from the metropolitan area. It honored the work of Dr. John Demakis, of blessed memory, who established the Washington D.C. Mission and Outreach Committee nearly 20 years ago in support of OCMC and global mission work.
The following day at Divine Liturgy at Sts. Constantine and Helen Orthodox Church in Silver Spring, MD, Archbishop Elpidophoros elevated Fr. Ritsi the office of Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Throne of Constantinople.
“His All-Holiness accepted my humble request to bestow upon Fr. Martin the highest honor a clergyman can have in our Orthodox Church,” said the Archbishop. “It is time to honor Fr. Martin at the level of the Ecumenical Patriarch for the work of OCMC in missions around the world. It is fitting that we award the cross of Agia Sophia to him since it is the missionary church par excellence in the world.”
In receiving the honor, Fr. Martin said, “Receiving this honor from the Ecumenical Patriarch and Archbishop Elpidophoros shows how our Church values the work of mission as central to Her being. The Archbishop stated at the banquet, ‘A Church without missions is a Church without mission,’ and this action is equally a tribute to the efforts of so many throughout the past decades to establish OCMC and preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth.”
Source: Orthodox Observer