The gathering was coordinated by the International Orthodox Christian Charity (IOCC), which worked with the White House to share just how government and faith groups can work together for the betterment of the faithful. The White House Conference on Orthodox Christian Engagment began early in the morning at 8:30am at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and was attended by His Eminence Nicolae, the Archepiscopal Liason from the Assembly of Bishops, His Grace Bishop Sebastian, representing Archbishop Demetrios, and the newly ordained Bishop Gregory of Nyssa, along with Executive Directors of all the agencies of the Assembly, board members of IOCC, Relief First Responders of IOCC from around the country, and other Orthodox leaders.
The Orthodox Christian community plays a critical role in the social outreach, disaster response, and community development in this country. The White House Office of Public Engagement and Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships sought to share partnership opportunities offered by the federal government to support these sacred efforts. Participants were urged to visit the White House website (www.whitehouse.gov) to engage themselves and the faithful entrusted to their care in making a difference in our country for the better.
Click below to listen in on presentations from the event.
1. His Eminence Archbishop Nicolae, Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops offers opening comments.
2. Mickey Homesy, Chairman of the Board of IOCC, the organizing agency of the White House conference, shares his appreciation for the conference, the blessings of God, the presence of so many Orthodox Leaders, Executive Directors of Assembly Agencies, Clergy and Laity.
3. Opening Remarks from Joshua Dubois, Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director, White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships
4. Panel 1: Federal Agencies Work with Congregations and Organizations
Paula Lincoln, Department of Housing and Urban Development
Terry Monrad, Department of Homeland Security- FEMA
Ben Seigel, Department of Labor
Eugene Schneeberg, Department of Justice
Respondent: Tonie Ann Coumanis Torrans, Penelope House, Mobile, AL
Several of the speakers are heard relating how faith-based organizations can work with federal government offices to improve their outreach. Very moving words were offered specifically by Eugene Schneeberg, who spoke to us about President Obama's special program encouraging better fatherhood and role models for young children and urged the conference participants to "speak truth to those in power to make differences in people's lives." Those who attended the conference posed questions to the panel of speakers. The response was offered by Tonie Ann Coumanis Torrans, who is responsible for an incredible outreach program in Mobile, AL.
5. Panel 2: Federal Agencies Work with Congregations and Organizations
Norah Deluhery, Department of Agriculture
Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, Department of Education
Lisa Carr, Department of Health and Human Services
Respondent: Anne Glynn-Mackoul, St. Vladimir's Seminary, NY
Several of the speakers from the second panel shared their work and how those in the field can partner with them to grow the outreach and effectiveness of on-going ministries. The respondent, Anne Glynn-Mackoul, asked whether government agencies are engaging with Seminarians across the country to further and enhance their ministries in the future.
6. Anne Filipic, White House Office of Public Engagement, offers closing remarks on behalf of the President of the United States and urges all to work with each other and the government to make our life in America better for all.
Special note of thanks was offered to Max Finberg, Department of Agriculture, who worked for over six months with members of IOCC.