Πέμπτη, 8 Φεβρουαρίου 2018

St. Simon of Cyrene Orthodox Mission (New Brunswick), an African American Mission in USA

St. Simon of Cyrene Orthodox Mission's aim is to be faithful in fulfilling the commandment of Christ to “Go into all the world and make disciples of all Nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all [things that He has] commanded” so that all people may be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth:
To preach, in accordance with God’s will, the fullness of the gospel of the Kingdom to the City of New Brunswick and to invite them to become members of the Orthodox Church.
To utilize for her mission the various languages and culture of the peoples of this city. To be the body of Christ in New Brunswick and to be faithful to the tradition of the Holy Orthodox Church.

A New Era in Evangelism and Outreach

“What are we doing about outreach to the Black community?” From the OCA Diocese of New York and New Jersey.

Saturday, July 1, 2017, saw an historic event in the life of the Diocese of New York – New Jersey: the ordination of Subdeacon Samuel Davis, of Somerset, NJ, to the Holy Diaconate. While diaconal ordinations are not necessarily historic, Deacon Samuel is the first – ever – African-American to be ordained to this office in the history of the Diocese, and he is leading the planting and development of St. Simon of Cyrene Orthodox Mission in New Brunswick, NJ, an inner-city mission working on reaching inner-city Blacks and Hispanics. The mission originally started off several years ago in the Coptic Church, but after much prayer and reflection Samuel and his family left the Coptic Church and were united in 2016 to the Orthodox Church in Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Manville, NJ. A recent graduate of Pillar College, Samuel also served in the U.S. Air Force.

Archbishop Michael with the newly-ordained Deacon Samuel Davis and his family: Diaconissa Julitssa (Photini), far left, and their children (left to right): Morgan (Perpetua), Ava (Felicity), Alexander (Samuel) and Isaac.

Deacon Samuel felt a strong calling to higher orders, and, after speaking with Archbishop Michael, was enrolled in the Diaconal Vocations Program and began his preparation for the Diaconate. Preparing for ordination while planting a new church is not easy. July 1, 2017 could not come soon enough, but when it finally did, Deacon Samuel remembers:
I did my very best to follow our tradition in preparation for ordination. Prayer, scripture reading, and fasting. Around 3 AM I woke up and the reality of ordination hit me. I began to recall the process to getting “here”. I was a bit overwhelmed. In the sense of looking back at what the Holy Spirit had done, not only in my life but everyone involved. On that day, the chapel set up for St. Simon’s at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (NBVM) Ukrainian Catholic Church was filled with 1 bishop, 7 priests, 1 deacon, 2 subdeacons (1 not for long!), and approximately 60 laypeople there to witness and give their prayerful support to the vision unfolding before their eyes. I truly felt the grace of the Holy Spirit while Archbishop Michael laid his hands on me. I felt renewed and a new sense of purpose and responsibility.
Deacon Samuel’s ordination coincided with the completion of the first 6 months of the mission’s history, and a new chapter was now unfolding. St. Simon’s has a “permanent temporary” setup at NBVM, a chapel setup for their exclusive use. The chapel contains the very basics needed to conduct divine services with a deacon or reader. Certainly, there is much more that could be added to the chapel to increase the prayerful atmosphere that already greets members and guests upon their arrival. While the basics may be in place, donations and help are certainly appreciated! Among current needs are donors for the new icons on the iconostas (which can be viewed in pictures in this article): if you would like to sponsor any of these icons (Our Lord and Lady, St. Simon of Cyrene), please contact Deacon Samuel at samuel.davis339@gmail.com.

Deacon Samuel now serves Typica with Reserve Sacrament every Sunday morning, and Vespers the night before. Adult Education/Catechetical classes take place on Wednesday evenings at Deacon Samuel’s house. Outreach marketing heavily utilizes Facebook event advertising as well as word-of-mouth. Lay leadership is currently being put in place. Subdeacon Henry Hando directs a growing choir and serves as the mission’s primary Reader. Diaconissa Julitssa is preparing for the mission’s first year of church school. Already, attendance has increased 50% since the start of the year and continues to grow as more and more people seeking the “Ancient Faith” and “Early Church” discover Orthodoxy at St. Simon’s. And, this small but dynamic group of people prepare food and hygiene kits for distribution to the poor and homeless in the New Brunswick area as well as assistance to Syrian refugees via IOCC.
But beyond the basics of planting and starting a new church is the wider vision of the mission’s specific and targeted outreach to Black and Hispanic people in the urban setting of New Brunswick. There is a growing awareness in the Historically Black Churches (HBCs) as well as in the Pentecostal communions of this “Early Church” and “Ancient Faith” – but the OCA has not been able to fully translate this interest and awareness into dialogue and direction. St. Simon’s will be our diocese’s first foray into this unchartered evangelical activity. Pray that the Holy Spirit will bless this mission and those that will find Holy Faith in it!

St Simon of Cyrene, icon by the hand of fr Jerome Sanderson (more about the icon see here). The photo (& more photos) from here.

St Simon of Cyrene Orthodox Mission

Samuel Davis gofundme.com

Deacon Samuel Davis with friends (right the hagiographer fr Jerome Sandersom?), photo from the article of John Gresham St. Simon’s Day: Calendar & Common Ground.

September 21, 2012 I began my journey into Holy Orthodoxy through the rite of Baptism. After having been formed in the Coptic tradition, my heart was filled with zeal to share faith with others. It was at this time I requested the blessing of our bishop to plant a mission parish in the city the New Brunswick. Having seen the example of cross bearing in the life of St Simon of Cyrene we prayerfully took the name of this great patron saint, the first to carry his cross for Christ.
Four years later we are now awaiting our official reception into the Orthodox Church of America Diocese of New York & New Jersey. Join us December 17, 2016 at SS Peter and Paul Orthodox Church 605 Washington Ave Manville, NJ to celebrate this historic occasion. The following day we will be hosting our first service at our new location, 2 King Arthur Ct. North Brunswick, NJ.
Our bishop, HE (His Eminence) Archbishop Michael was a seminarian at the end of the Civil Rights Movement. It was at this time he had a deep concern and zeal to share the richness of Holy Orthodoxy with those in the African diaspora. It is with the very same desire HE Archbishop Michael has commissioned us to be the first of many to complete this mission.
Our mission is very simple; to spread the love of Jesus Christ in the city of New Brunswick and its surrounding areas, by restoring the Orthodox faith, Tradition, and rites. To serve the needs of the poor and outcast, the “little ones” who have no power of their own. As a parish of purpose, it is our desire to live in the pattern of Jesus Christ, to be an imitation of loving sacrifice for others in obedience to God.

ABOUT THIS CAMPAIGN: Project New Brunswick

The objective of this Church Building Fund Campaign is to build a parish with the purpose of restoring ancient Christianity to those whose predecessors were among Christianity’s first converts. Restoration is not easy. Being the first of many like-minded parishes, ours will be the messiest in this effort. Along with meeting the needs of our building budget, there are many needs that need to fill in order to plant a Orthodox parish for this community. It is in our interest once this fund is complete to center our attention on raising funds for our working poor and homeless outreach along with our education program, The Marcus Garvey and St Athanasius Academy. We strongly believe through these to outreach efforts we can help bring about much needed restoration and healing to those within the city of New Brunswick and it neighboring towns. This project will be funded by two main sources: our internal building fund campaign (including tithes and offerings), and external financing. 

The Road to Calvary, icon from the page of the Mission
At the completion of this project, St Simon of Cyrene Orthodox Church and this community will benefit from the following, but not be limited to:
- A sense of security to the community
- Family enrichment and the cultivation of healthy social living
- A decrease in crime, and an increase in economic development
- An increase in membership and giving
- The development of community jobs (i.e. daycare, summer camps)
- A sanctuary that will accommodate up to 300 parishioners
- Class rooms for meetings and youth education
- A central location to provide food and clothing to the community
- Partnering with the local schools for after school and supplemental programs (i.e. tutoring, literacy, community service) 


In the next 88 days we need to raise $13,700, and this is how you can help! Donations in any amount can be accepted via this page or you may mail a check or money order to:
Mailing Address:
OCA Diocese of New York and New Jersey
33 Hewitt Ave
Bronxville NY 10708
914 770 6580
*Make checks payable to:
OCA Diocese of New York and New Jersey
Memo: Project New Brunswick/St Simon’s 

500 people give $27.40=$13,700
250 people give $54.80=$13,700
150 people give $91=$13,700
100 people give $137=$13,700
50 people give $274=$13,700
25 people give $548=$13700

WE CAN DO THIS TOGETHER! If everyone on your Facebook friends list gave at least $5.00 we will reach our goal within hours!
Thank you, in advance, for your generosity!
Samuel Davis
St Simon of Cyrene Mission
OCA Diocese of NY & NJ 

From the page of  St. Simon of Cyrene Orthodox Mission in Facebook:

A picture is worth a thousand words. Or more. here.

Word of st Paisios

When someone is cursing, blaspheming, or being impudent, it is better to pretend to be busy and not listening and to say the Jesus Prayer. For, if he sees that you are paying attention to him, he may continue to curse all the more, and you can then become a cause for his demonic influence. If, however, one is not impudent but is conscientious and curses out of a bad habit, you can say something to him. If, again, one is conscientious but has a great deal of egoism, you must be careful not to speak sternly to him but, rather, you have to be as humble as you can and speak to him with pain. Elder Paisios of Mount Athos Spiritual Counsels Vol. II Spiritual Awakening 66.
Saint Paisios (graffiti in the Greek Island Samos), from the post Saint Paisios in the Youth Culture of Greece (photos + video)


To paraphrase the Golden-mouth: “If you ask your parishioners, “Who was Amos or Obadiah, or what is the number of the Prophets or Apostles?” they cannot even open their mouths. But for football and basketball teams, they make excuses more clever than politicians, and after all this, they say, “What’s the problem? What’s the issue? This is what I long for.” The problem is you don’t even know that this preoccupation is a waste of time, and you don’t have a sense of its evils.
God has given you a certain amount of life for serving Him, and while you spend it wastefully, at random, on nothing useful, you still ask, “What’s the problem?” If you have spent a little money for no reason, you call it a waste, but when you spend whole days on the devil's entertainment, do you think that you are doing nothing wrong?
You ought to spend all your life in supplications and prayers, but you waste your life and wealth stupidly, and to your own harm—on noise, and uproar, and obscenity, and fighting, and vulgarity, and deception, and after all this you ask, “What’s the problem?” You don’t realize you should be lavish with anything except time. (here)
"Custom without truth is the antiquity of error", St. Cyrprian of Carthage (here).

See also
St Mary of Egypt, a multi-cultural orthodox community in Kansas City
St Nicholas of Japan, a multi-ethnic orthodox parish in Johannesburg

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