New SOC Mission approved
- 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.
The Patriarchal Document number 479/09 signed October 23, 2009 in Damascus affirming full communion marks the conclusion of over six years of communication between our mission and the SOC. We have been honored with two visits during that time from the Very Reverend Corepiscopa Kuriakose Moolayil of Kerala, India (the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church); four visits from the Reverend Sabu Thomas of St Mary's Church in Whittier, CA (the Malankara Archdiocese of North America); a visit in 2007 from His Beatitude Mor Baselios Thomas I (Catholicose of India), accompanied by His Eminence Mor Titus Yeldho Pathickal (Archbishop of the Malankara Archdiocese of North America)and His Eminence Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan (Archbishop of the Western Archdiocese of the USA); and several visits from faithful members of many SOC churches in the USA. It also follows upon my annual visits to India from 2007, several visits to St. Mary's in Whittier, my visit to His Eminence Mor Titus in New York in 2008, and many visits to His Eminence Mor Clemis in Burbank (which is happily only one hour from our mission).
We are a small group of Orthodox Christians, most of whom have come from other faith traditions.
We ask your prayers for us. Our mission hopes to serve as a light to our community of the beauty and joy of Orthodox faith and life, and to witness to its relevance to all - regardless of country of origin, ethicity or race.
I serve as pastor of the mission. I received my Master's degree in Religious Studies (Theology) from Mount Saint Mary's College in Los Angeles, California; and I am currently in the second year of my doctorate (the Eastern Christian Studies program of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary) co-sponsored by the Antiochian Orthodox Church (SCOBA) sited at its Ligonier, Pennsylvania location.
IF YOU LIVE in NORTH LOS ANGELES COUNTY our mission is now your closest church home.
If you are planning leadership meetings or retreats, youth retreats, young adult retreats, family or church retreats, picnics, etc.: we encourage you to use our facilities. Our overnight capacity is 33 at present; daytime use is 250. We believe we are the only Oriental Orthodox retreat facility in the United States at this time.
We have a YahooGroup (similar to this one) which you are invited to join:
You may contact us at:
St. Helena's Mission & Retreat Camp
Fr. James Francis Gregory Colburn
9650 Lost Valley Ranch Road
P O Box 772
Leona Valley, CA 93551
phone: (661) 270-0616
- 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
[ http://bethmardutho.cua.edu/Hugoye/ ]
Web Master, Syriac Orthodox Resources
[ http://sor.cua.edu/ ]
--- 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.