Diocesan Member Becomes Newest Member of OCMC Board

New officers were elected as the Board of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) gathered at the Archbishop Anastasios and Archbishop Demetrios Missionary Training and Administration Building in St. Augustine, FL, for its Annual Spring Board Meeting.

Fr. George Liacopulos, pastor of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Egg Harbor Township, NJ will assume the role of Board President. Formerly the Board Secretary, Fr. George holds a PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary and is the author of “Lights of the Modern World: Orthodox Christian Mission and Evangelism in the United States” published by Light and Life, along with numerous papers. He also lectures frequently and has taught at several institutions. Fr. Lou Christopulos of St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church in Greenwood Village, CO will serve as Vice-President. Mr. William O. Birchfield III of Jacksonville, FL (Orthodo x Church in America) will continue in the position of Treasurer; and the duties of Board Secretary will now fall on Dr. Gayle Woloschak of Chicago (Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA) Mr. John Hrapchak of Columbia, MD (American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese) was also welcomed as OCMC’s newest Board Member.  

 They will continue the work undertaken by the Board’s previous officers, which were led by Mr. Clifford Argue. Over the course of Mr. Argue’s two terms as Board President the OCMC saw the adoption of a five-year strategic plan, a further articulation of the OCMC vision to make disciples of all nations; the design, construction and opening of the new Mission Center – the first permanent structure ever built for an agency of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA); and the addition of an Associate Director. Each of these major accomplishments helped to grow the OCMC’s base of supporters, raise awareness of missions among the faithful in North America, and encourage an increasing number of Orthodox Christians to answer their call to missions through service as long-term missionaries or short-term mission team members.

Prior to these elections the Board continued to hone OCMC’s future thinking through the work of the Strategic Planning Committee meeting on Monday, April 19th. The committee, chaired by retiring Board member and Vice President Fr. Chad Hatfield, Chancellor of St. Vladimir’s Seminary, worked on restating and clarifying OCMC’s vision, mission, and values as a basis for preparing an updated and revised Strategic Plan. This work will continue in the months ahead for eventual review and adoption by the full Board.

 Sessions of the general board meeting took place on Tuesday and Wednesday. During these sessions, Mr. Argue reflected on his tenure as Board President and thanked everyone, both Board and Staff for working so well as a team in support of the Great Commission; and OCMC Executive Director Fr. Martin briefed the board on the progress the staff had made on the organization’s 2010 operational plan. Highlights from Fr. Martin’s report included the deployment of two new long-term missionaries (Charita Stavrou and James Hargrave) to Tanzania and the record number of volunteers (117) that have been approved to serve on OCMC Mission Teams. Fr. Martin also described his trip in February with an OCMC Team to northern Kenya where a number of people in the Turkana tribe have been recently received into Orthodoxy, and many more in remote villages who have no knowledge of Christ, are ready to be catechized and baptized. More information on OCMC efforts in this region will be forthcoming in the near future.

In keeping with their fiduciary responsibilities, Board members reviewed in detail and adopted the 2009 financial results presented by the Audit/Finance Committee Chair Mr . Birchfield, as well as the first quarter of 2010 figures. Independent external auditor Gregory Korn, C.P.A. of Jacksonville presented his findings to the Board giving a clean audit with no discrepancies for 2009. OCMC financial reports can be found at www.ocmc.org. The Board also discussed the need for continued emphasis on and participation in Development opportunities including annual giving, major gifts, Friends of Missions, Support A Mission Priest, AGAPE canisters, and special events such as Mission Sunday, local and regional dinners, book-signings, golf tournaments, and Mission walks.

On the evening of Tuesday the 20th, a benefit banquet was held at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Jacksonville, FL. This event, which was organized by OCMC Board Members Bruce Humphrey and Nassim Elias and hosted by Fr. Kamal al-Rahil and the community at St. George, saw over 100 attendees. OCMC’s first Executive Director Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos opened and closed the evening with prayer. During the banquet, Fr. Martin gave a talk on the storied history of Orthodox missions in North America. He also shared some of the work that the OCMC has been doing around the world including among the Turkana tribe of northern Kenya. Mr. Argue was recognized for his years of service as Board President with the gift of a mounted icon of the Great Commission.

 In spite of a persistently perilous global economic environment, the OCMC continues to proclaim the Gospel of Christ around the world. The new OCMC Board officers will face challenges in the coming years, but emboldened by the Holy Spirit and equipped with a deepening understanding of missions the OCMC will strive to welcome an increasing number of people into the Body of Christ on behalf of all Orthodox faithful. Please join us in praying for and supporting this work and those who will answer the call to make it all possible. Go to www.ocmc.org or call 1-877-GO-FORTH (877-463-6784)