2014 Metropolis of Boston Ministry Awards Banquet

On Sunday, June 8, 2014 His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios welcomed close to 750 faithful of the Metropolis of Boston who gathered at Lombardo's in Randolph, Massachusetts to recognize and say thank you to the dedicated men and women who tirelessly serve our communites throughout New England.

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Remarks of Metropolitan Methodios at the 2014 Ministry Awards Banquet

This evening (as we do every year on the second Sunday in June) we gather to celebrate our Orthodox Faith and to thank God for, and take pride in, the ministry of our Parishes here in New England.  We assemble to honor those individuals who have offered dedicated service in our communities throughout the Metropolis.

We pause to read the pages of our parish biographies written by those whom we honor tonight, pages written with the pen of faith, with the ink of vision and boldness. 

We gather at this banquet of achievement, this table of thanksgiving to strengthen the bond of unity that links us to the past, and bridges us to the future; that bond which binds us together in mind and purpose.

Our dinner this year takes place on Pentecost Sunday. Reading the second chapter of the Book of Acts, we learn that it was on that first Pentecost when a company of fearful disciples received the promised gifts of the Holy Spirit, and were changed into enthusiastic, active witnesses, confident in their faith and future.  Their fears disappeared.  Peter, a simple fisherman, once so fearful that he denied knowing Christ, stood before thousands to proclaim that what he and the other disciples had experienced was foretold by the Prophets of the Old Testament --- that Jesus Christ was the Son of God.  As a result, thousands were baptized.

This was the case with all the disciples.  Once simple fishermen, they proclaimed the word of God with boldness.  Men once consumed with fear, were now giving testimony to the Resurrection of Christ (Acts 4:33).  As a result of the miracle of Pentecost, each understood the Gospel in his own language.  The barriers of communication were down.  A new source of unity prevailed.  The Spirit of God was received, and it led them from discouragement to confidence, from fear to action….to a vision of God active in the world.

As we thank God for the recipients of the ministry awards, let us pray that the Holy Spirit may bless all our priests and laymen who labor in our communities.

Let us thank God for blessing us to live in America—where we are free to worship without fearing for our lives.

Permit me tonight to share with you my concerns for Orthodox and Coptic Christians living in Iraq, in Iran, in Palestine, Afghanistan, Egypt and Turkey who are not able to worship without fearing for their lives.  I refer to those brethren who are modern day martyrs of Christianity who courageously keep the light of faith shining in that part of the world. They have suffered greatly.  Hundreds, indeed thousands of their properties including private homes, churches, schools, monasteries and orphanages have been confiscated.  Millions have been forced to abandon their birthplaces to become refugees in unwelcoming countries.

Sadly, the national news media rarely addresses this human tragedy.

For two millennia  Christians in this region have professed love for and lived in peaceful coexistence with their neighbors regardless of faith, ethnicity or race.  Now they suffer a terrible fate.  I believe it is imperative upon us as well as every American that lives in this blessed land and has the freedom to worship—or not to worship—to deplore the wanton destruction of Christian churches, the persecution of innocent Christians, and all unspeakable acts of terror throughout the Middle East.  We are all members of one family bound by our commitment to our faith, and as such, when one member of the family suffers, the entire family suffers (1 Cor. 12-26).

I believe we cannot call ourselves “Christians”, and  remain idle observers to the injustices occurring in the ancient homelands of Christianity.  How can we consider ourselves Christians if we ignore the violence and anarchy endured by our brethren?  How can we remain indifferent that two Archbishops, Paul and John, kidnapped in Aleppo, Syria well over a year ago are still held captive?  I believe we must pledge our solidarity with our suffering brethren and raise our voices so that they may be heard in Washington and other centers of power throughout the Western world.  I am afraid that the day is coming when no Christian will be left in the lands where Christianity flourished for centuries!

Is it not unethical to send billions of dollars in aid to countries where Christians do not enjoy human rights and religious freedom… where priests have been be- headed for preaching the word of God?

As we honor tonight’s award recipients, let us also, on this Pentecost Sunday, focus our attention on those brethren in our country who for various reasons are not active participants in the lives of our communities.  Let us pray the Holy Spirit enable us to speak a language that can be understood by those who are disinterested, disillusioned and disaffected and disenchanted.

And may our communities and their leaders open their embrace to welcome back those that have strayed away for one reason or another.     

And let us also provide a welcoming environment for those brethren in our cities and towns that seek to familiarize themselves with Orthodoxy—those who seek to quench their spiritual thirsts at the Jacob’s well of our parishes.