Dear Rev. Fr. Colburn and members of the St. Helena congregation,
A hearty congratulations to you as you join in the communion of the Syriac Orthodox Church which has an unbroken connection to the first apostolic community in Jerusalem and Antioch. You have patiently waited for 6 long years and it is very heartening that you stayed steadfast in your convictions during these years while demonstrating the sincerity of your intentions. I hope your entry into the church is a turning point in the history of the Church.
To all readers -
For the last 8 centuries, the Church, which once had its reach across the far corners of Asia, had been constrained, in the face of significant persecution, to a few remote corners of the world. In the past few decades, the Syriac Orthodox have spread wings to various parts of the world and in today's global village the opportunities are ripe to attract souls all over the world to the Good News of Lord - not through words alone but through living the model of a true Christian life.
The rich cultural heritage of the different Syriac Orthodox communities unfortunately becomes a hindrance in reaching out to people of other cultures. We have to be encouraged by the fact that the fathers of the Church travelled far and wide to strange lands and cultures all over the world and nurtured the faith.
Through the acceptance of St. Helena's congregation into the Church, we have a golden opportunity to think about nurturing the faith in a Western cultural context. If it were possible for the Semitic Christian traditions to take root in far off and culturally alien Malankara and be nurtured for 2000 years, today, this is indeed much greater opportunity for a Western branch of the SOC to take root. It requires foresight and patience on the part of the faithful who inherited their faith and those who have adopted the faith.
There are immediate and basic tasks ahead - such as the translation of the liturgical heritage of the Church into Western languages while preserving the essence and character of the tradition. We have to refocus ourselves, moving beyond the conflicts of the past years and look forward to how we as a Church can make a difference in this world. Let us be inspired by the words of our Lord in St. John 4:34 - "I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest."
I hope all of us reflect on the significance of the moment and recommit ourselves to invigorating the spiritual fibre of our Church and make it truly worthy to be called the Body of our Lord.
In His Love,
Thomas Joseph, Ph.D.
Tech. Editor, Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies
Web Master, Syriac Orthodox Resources
--- In SOCM-FORUM@yahoogroups.com, Fr. James Francis Gregory Colburn wrote:
> Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
> Please join me in giving thanks this Christmas season to the merciful Incarnate Son for the gracious approval and acceptance by His Holiness Patriarch Ignatios Zakka I Iwas of St. Helena's Orthodox Mission in Leona Valley, California into the worldwide communion of our holy Church of Antioch.