+Jonah Discusses Church Mission, Unity

September 20, 2009

LIGONIER, PA [OCA Communications] — His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah was among the speakers at the 2009 Orthodox Conference on Missions and Evangelism held at Antiochian Village here recently.

In his first talk, “The Necessity of Unity,” Metropolitan Jonah stressed that Orthodox unity in North America is an expression of the evangelical mission of the Church. “We’re not Christians, truly, unless we are involved in evangelism,” he emphasized, adding that evangelism is ultimately expressed through concrete actions of proclaiming the Gospel. One of the ways that the Church lives the Gospel is to seek out and build up its essential unity in Christ, a unity that includes all peoples regardless of ethnicity, race, or social status.

Commenting on the recent Chambessy statement concerning the “diaspora,” Metropolitan Jonah stated that the processes outlined in the statement are possibly “a gift from God, a way to spur us to unity.” He said that, “if we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, it will come together in a way that will honor God and be in accordance with His will.”

In his second talk, Metropolitan Jonah’s explored the theme, “Baptizing the Culture: Towards and American Orthodoxy.” He stated that even people from ethnic jurisdictions are, culturally, North Americans, as they quickly discover when they visit their ancestral homelands and attend services there. Rather than relying on the cultural expressions of the traditions out of which the Orthodox in this country come, the real goal is to find a North American cultural expression of the Faith. Metropolitan Jonah defines this work a “incarnating the Church within the culture.” The most important part of this process, he said, is “to organically enter into the Tradition itself and let things develop…. Orthodoxy naturally integrates into culture, but what is critically important is that we use the language of the people that we are ministering to so that they understand not only with their minds but with their hearts.”

The Orthodox Conference on Missions and Evangelism is sponsored annually by the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. Among the other speakers at this year’s conference were the Very Rev. Peter Gillquist and Mr. Charles Ajalat, Board Chairman of FOCUS North America.

Metropolitan Jonah will again address the theme of Orthodox unity in North America at the 2009 fall conference of Orthodox Christian Laity Thursday, October 29 through Saturday, October 31, 2009, at Antiochian Village, Ligonier, PA. More information about this conference may be found here.

Metropolitan Jonah’s presentations, together with the talks of the other presenters at the 2009 Orthodox Conference on Missions and Evangelism, may be accessed on Ancient Faith Radio at:

http://tinyurl.com/lqp3e6

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