Present to discuss the role of Orthodox Christians in social outreach, disaster response, and community development in the United States were Archbishop Nicolae of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas and liaison to IOCC from the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America. Also present were Bishop Gregorios of Nyssa of the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese and Bishop Sevastianos of Zela, Chief Secretary of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Eparchial Synod, representing Archbishop Demetrios of America, a member of the Presidential Commission for Faith-Based Organizations. The Orthodox Christian hierarchs were joined by IOCC Board Chairman, Michael S. "Mickey" Homsey, along with IOCC board members and staff, Orthodox Christian clergy and leaders of Orthodox Christian service organizations.
"The opportunity for this level of discourse with the White House is an important way to build understanding between our communities and contribute toward serving needs here in the United States," said Homsey. "The conference is an important step toward uniting the efforts of Orthodox Christians to effectively serve their communities and builds on similar service IOCC has provided in more than 50 countries around the world over the past twenty years."
The half-day conference brought together the community's leadership to learn more about its multifaceted ministries, and to explore potential collaborations offered by the federal government to support the Church's service work. "The Orthodox Christian community plays a critical role in social outreach, disaster response, and community development," said D. Paul Monteiro, Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. The conference provided a forum for dialogue on that outreach and areas for mutual cooperation.
Preceding the White House conference was a gathering of IOCC's Frontline, a national emergency response network comprising volunteers trained in disaster response, organized following the events of September 11. IOCC recently deployed Frontliners to assist in coastal communities along the Eastern seaboard following Superstorm Sandy, as well as to provide pastoral counseling to survivors and families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut.
IOCC seeks to expand its network of volunteers nationally to serve more communities through disaster preparedness and emergency response. In addition to emergency response, IOCC's efforts in the United States have focused on the provision of educational assistance to children in underserved communities throughout the country and facilitation of hands-on community outreach efforts through volunteerism and home building projects.
Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) covered the White House event and recorded featured speakers at the conference. Excerpts from the conference can be heard on their website at www.myocn.net
ABOUT INTERNATIONAL ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHARITIES
IOCC is the official humanitarian aid agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America. Since its inception in 1992, IOCC has delivered more than $400 million in relief and development programs to families and communities in 50 countries. IOCC is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy.