Last week, 10 pan-Orthodox ministries came together at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese for a two-day meeting addressing homelessness. Executive Director Fr. Stephen Powley and Director of Operations Paul Politis represented the OCPM.
There were three main objectives purposed:
- To learn from one another, highlight strengths and areas for growth, and create ties for greater collaboration by establishing a common language and approach when educating our faithful about and responding to homelessness and poverty;
- To develop and release a comprehensive report detailing the work of each organization, including information for parishes and the faithful on “getting involved”;
- To capitalize on the collective experiences and data of the organizations present and create educational resources for the faithful to learn about homelessness and poverty in the USA. The goal is to destigmatize those who live in poverty and create a foundation for more compassionate and knowledgeable service provisions.
The meeting was headed up by Nicholas Anton, the Director of the Department of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical, and Inter-Faith Relations for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and by Spyridoula Fotinis the Programs Coordinator for this department.
Fr. Stephen and Paul were able to present what can happen to men and women coming out of prison when the Church is not there for them. As well, they also presented the great need that exists for families of those sent to prison. They also presented the positive side of what can happen to men and women when the Church is there for them when they are released from prison.
All the ministries provided a great deal of information and inspiration. They also shared some of the outstanding work with homeless folks going on across the country. OCPM may be able to place some folks coming out of prison with some of these ministries as we move forward.
Here is the common multi-faceted understanding that we arrived at:
“As Orthodox Christians, we are called to love our neighbors by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison, etc. (Matthew 25:35-40) in a relational way that recognizes the humanity of each person. The value and dignity of each person must be recognized in every moment of serving another human being. Our theology and identity as Orthodox Christians inspires and informs our witness as opposed to witness for recruitment or proselytization. Instead, we must be the Church and shine Christ’s love in our service to others through Christ-centered empowerment, illuminated by the relational nature of the Eucharist. We recognize that we are each broken and are all spiritually homeless in need of Christ. Beyond a physical house to find shelter in, each person requires to be served as a whole human being in need of a home; spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally with dignity and respect.”
The results of the two days of meetings will be forwarded to the Church and Society Committee of the Assembly of Bishops USA for further review and possible adoption.